The Desert Hills girls’ basketball team is in a familiar position heading into the Class 3A playoffs.
State runners-up the last two years, the Thunder are again among the contenders for the title after finishing the season with just one loss and the Region 9 title.
Girls’ tournament schedules
At Sevier Valley Center, Richfield
» Bryce Valley 39, Piute 38
» St. Joseph 42, Wayne 32
» Rich 51, Wendover 20
» Panguitch 70, Whitehorse 42
» Panguitch vs. Rich, 6 p.m.
» St. Joseph vs. Bryce Valley, 7:30 p.m.
First round, Friday
At Orem High
» South Sevier vs. Waterford, 8:30 a.m.
» South Summit vs. Beaver, 10:10 a.m.
» Delta vs. Summit, 11:50 a.m.
» Maeser Prep vs. North Sevier, 1:30 p.m.
» Millard vs. Gunnison, 3:10 p.m.
» Rowland Hall vs. Grand, 4:50 p.m.
» Emery vs. Rockwell, 6:30 p.m.
» North Summit vs. Enterprise, 8:10 p.m.
First round, Friday
At home sites
» Grantsville at Desert Hills, 6 p.m.
» Tooele at Hurricane, 6 p.m.
» Richfield at Morgan, 6 p.m.
» Union at Juab, 7 p.m.
» Cedar at Bear River, 7 p.m.
» Carbon at Juan Diego, 7 p.m.
» Park City at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.
» Snow Canyon at Stansbury, 7 p.m.
So could this finally be their year?
Coach Chris Allred said the Thunder have several players who’ve played in each of the last two playoff runs, and he’s hoping that experience will finally get them over the hump.
"There’s some motivation there," Allred said. "They have a great perspective of what it takes to be successful at the state tournament. They don’t want to squander an opportunity."
Region 10 champion Morgan will challenge the Thunder, however. The Trojans also finished with just one loss — to Timpview, the same team that beat Desert Hills — and blew out the majority of their competition.
Allred said those two teams, as well as Juan Diego, which finished second in Region 10, will be the favorites to take state. But region champions Bear River and North Sanpete also are looming.
"I’d say that as you look at it, those are probably the three [teams] to look for," he said. "But there are always crazy things that happen. Whoever can get hot can win it."
While the Class 3A tournament appears to be controlled by three teams, the Class 2A tournament is up for grabs.
Emery coach Dean Stilson said he could see any team in the field ending up with the trophy. Top teams include region champions Emery, South Summit, Delta and Rowland Hall.
"It’s a great atmosphere for everyone to be in," Stilson said. "You’ve got a great opportunity and you hope things go your way. You might see some games go down to the wire."
Two teams appear to have the inside track to the title in Class 1A. Panguitch finished the season undefeated, including a 12-0 mark in Region 20. Meanwhile defending state champion St. Joseph lost just one game, its season opener.
The Bobcats and the Jayhawks are on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning they could meet up in Saturday’s championship game.
The other remaining top-seeded team in Class 1A is Rich, the winner Region 17. Monticello, the Region 19 champ, was unexpectedly routed 55-30 by Bryce Valley in Wednesday’s first round.
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