To those who haven’t been paying attention, the Class 4A girls’ basketball bracket may look upside down.
Cyprus and Salem Hills are No. 1 seeds? Springville is a No. 4 seed?
But the changes in the bracket reflect the shifts of power during the season. The chances seem to be good that the 4A championship will go to a first-time winner.
A prime example is the rapid ascent of Cyprus, which went 20-1 in the regular season, losing only to 5A’s Bingham. The Pirates are one of the best defensive teams in the league, averaging more than a dozen steals per game, and they boast one of the state’s best double-double threats in senior forward Lori Parkinson.
Cyprus took a big step ahead, particularly with the transfer of Julie Caputo and moving down in classification, and now has shed a mostly unimpressive reputation.
“I think their attitudes have been the biggest difference this year,” coach Josh Adams says. “There’s a stigma at Cyprus that we’re supposed to lose at sports. This group has really been tenacious and kept their heads together.”
Many programs that began only a few years ago are also occupying power positions. Salem Hills is in the top right now, thanks much in part to a deep bench and the strong play of senior center Lyssa Hanks.
But a number of Region 8 teams are in the mix for a title — a reflection of how balanced this region truly is. Maple Mountain splashed onto the scene a year ago in a run to the semifinals and brings back many of the same players. Timpanogos will be a handful in the first round with sophomore forward Eternity Galaei and senior guard Mercedes Riggs.
And sure enough, Springville is in the wings. It will draw Cyprus in the first round, but can’t be overlooked: The Red Devils won seven of their past nine to clinch a playoff spot.
“There’s a lot of teams in our region that are pretty scary,” Salem Hills coach Mike Conner says. “The teams that beat us in region I think are all contenders. It just depends on who has a good night.”
The other No. 1 seeds are Bonneville and Skyline, two teams that have won with defense.
The Lakers went undefeated in a region that boasted two semifinal teams last year, and have beaten every 4A team they’ve played except Cyprus. Transfer Emilie Volk leads the team in scoring, but Bonneville’s best weapon is slowing teams down and stopping the transition game.
Skyline has one of the best senior players in the state in center Miquelle Askew. The Eagles struggled in their final two games, losing to Westlake and narrowly escaping Olympus, but they’ll be sure to play tough in the first round after last year’s early exit.
Class 4A girls’ basketball tournament
at Salt Lake Community College First-round schedule (All games on Monday)
9:30 a.m. • Timpanogos vs. Woods Cross
11:10 a.m. • Bonneville vs. Olympus
12:50 p.m. • Skyline vs. Timpview
2:30 p.m. • Bountiful vs. Maple Mountain
4:10 p.m. • Mountain Crest vs. Hillcrest
5:50 p.m. • Salem Hills vs. East
7:30 p.m. • Cyprus vs. Springville
9:10 p.m. • Westlake vs. Sky View