All three girls basketball teams will be in action this weekend for the first round of the 3A State Basketball Tournament.
The Stansbury Stallions enter the tournament as co-champions of Region 11 and will play as the No. 2 seed against Snow Canyon. The Tooele Lady Buffaloes and Grantsville Cowboys both hit the road to southern Utah for their games. The No. 3 seed Lady Buffs play at Hurricane, and the No. 4 seed Cowboys play at Desert Hills.
The Grantsville girls are back in the state tournament for the first time in four years, and their reward is to play against Desert Hills, which has an overall record of 21-1 and a star player, Haley Bodnar, who has committed to play college basketball for Purdue University.
“We have a good defensive game plan going in,” said GHS coach Megan Vera. “We reminded our players that they’re high school girls just like them. Don’t be too mental about it.”
Vera said since this is the first state playoff game for any of the Grantsville players, they’re nervous but also ecstatic for the chance to play against the best in the state. Vera said she told the Grantsville girls that nerves are a good thing and to use that excitement to their advantage.
“They’re nervous but mostly excited,” she said. “We’re young so this will be a good experience going into next year.”
Desert Hills’ only loss this season came against 4A Timpview, which won Region 8 and posted an overall record of 17-3. Desert Hills outscored opponents by an average of 28 points per game on its way to an undefeated region season.
The game between Grantsville and Desert Hills starts at 6 p.m. at Desert Hills High School.
Stansbury enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed after Bear River won a coin toss that gave it the top seed from the region. But SHS coach Kenzie Newton said it didn’t matter what seed they received because all teams from southern Utah are tough.
“It came down to the final night to decide 2 through 4 in that region,” Newton said. “We know it’ll be tough. Our seed doesn’t matter because they’re all tough.”
The Snow Canyon Lady Warriors drew the No. 3 seed from Region 9 and will make the trip to Stansbury High School for the game. Newton said Snow Canyon is similar to the Stallions in that they like to press and play man-to-man defense. She said that will be a good thing because the Stallions are already used to playing against that style every day in practice.
Newton said her players feel confident after watching film, and they’re happy to play a home game in the first round rather than making the trip to St. George.
Snow Canyon enters the game with an 11-9 overall record and its best wins coming against American Fork and Salem Hills.
The game at Stansbury High School starts at 7 p.m.
TOOELE LADY BUFFALOES
Just like the Grantsville girls, this is the first time the Lady Buffs have qualified for state in four years.
Their return to the state tournament takes them to Hurricane, where the Tigers have played themselves to a 13-8 record this season. Their best wins came against Snow Canyon and Cedar.
After a tough start where the Lady Buffs lost 13 of their first 15 games, they turned it around to win four of their last six games and played in a close loss against 4A Ogden 57-51 in Tuesday’s non-region tune-up game. In those four region wins against Grantsville and Ben Lomond, Tooele won by an average of 30 points per game.
Tooele’s playoff battle in Hurricane starts at 7 p.m.