Everything that has happened to this point in the high school basketball season doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.
It’s what happens over the next month and a half that will determine the true success of Tooele County’s boys and girls teams.
While the early-season success has been nice for Stansbury’s girls, as well as Grantsville’s girls and boys, if it doesn’t carry over into the region season, it will all be for naught. All three teams have some momentum going into region, with Stansbury riding its second four-game winning streak of the season, the Grantsville girls picking up some wins over larger schools like Mountain Crest, Lehi and Snow Canyon and Grantsville’s boys coming off a come-from-behind win over county rival Tooele. But they’ll need to maintain that over the next six weeks or so, or they could find themselves in unfavorable first-round matchups in the state tournament or even out of the playoffs altogether.
On the flip side, the Stansbury and Tooele boys get a clean slate. The losses that they took during the preseason haven’t hurt anything except maybe their pride. Their postseason chances were as good as anybody’s when the Region 11 season tipped off on Tuesday — and, in fact, they’re currently in a three-way tie for first place after the Stallions beat Park City and the Buffaloes topped Ogden.
The same goes for Tooele’s girls, who remain tied for the top spot after having won their region opener just before Christmas. Sure, the Buffs went 0-3 at the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic, and they would have preferred to have a better showing against teams they might see in the state tournament. But right now, those losses don’t matter. They don’t affect the Buffs’ pursuit of a high seed in the postseason.
Thanks to the Utah High School Activities Association’s playoff system, in which teams advance to the postseason based solely on where they finish in their region standings, there’s no selection committee to impress. Teams go into the region season knowing exactly what they have to do to get in — finish in the top four. For Tooele and Stansbury, that probably means going .500 in region. For Grantsville, it likely means winning two region games. While that may sound like an easy task on paper, nothing is guaranteed.
The non-region schedule is over. Let the real games begin.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He’s looking forward to the region basketball season and the buildup to the state tournament. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.