Boys basketball preview: Sizing up new-look Region 13 with Ben Lomond, Ogden, LCA, Morgan
There are essentially two tiers to the new-look Region 13 in boys basketball, the way area coaches saw it in November.
The top tier has new addition Layton Christian, perennial contender Morgan and defending champion Grantsville. The bottom tier has new addition Ben Lomond, new addition Ogden and South Summit.
But no matter how one slices it, Region 13 is a much better region for travel than it was last year for both the current and new region teams.
For example, Ben Lomond and Ogden’s average road games in region play are about 38 miles away (going to Layton Christian, Morgan, Grantsville and South Summit) compared to 77.5 miles the last two years in Region 10 (Tooele, Stansbury, Juan Diego, Cedar Valley and Uintah).
Here’s an alphabetical look at the four Northern Utah teams in Region 13.
Not many things went right for Ben Lomond in last year’s 4-19 season, save for sweeping the season series against Ogden.
The Scots return senior starting forwards Kekoa Beard and Caleb Alexander, and senior guards Preston Williams and Chauncey Whitty. They also add a couple senior transfers, Jaxon Thomas and Kole Sparrow, plus sophomore Jake East.
Experience and versatility are some of the team’s strengths, head coach Tanoka Beard said. One issue is the lack of size, “although we have some toughness that can possibly make up for that,” Beard added.
BL’s only remaining non-region game against another area school is Dec. 21 at Roy.
The Eagles return forward Souleymane Barro (12.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 5.3 blocks per game) and a host of players from last year’s team that won the 2A state championship and the Region 17 title.
Two juniors — Tyrese Lacey and Isaac Cubero — led the team in scoring with 18 and 14 points, respectively, in Tuesday’s 69-52 win at 5A Tooele.
For years, Layton Christian tried unsuccessfully to move just its boys basketball program up a classification from 2A to 3A.
Now, LCA is finally where it wants to be for boys basketball and it’s hard to say the Eagles don’t belong in 3A. They have more athleticism and size than most teams in the classification and LCA has a record of 13-15 against higher-classification schools in Utah (excluding Wasatch Academy) the past four seasons.
LCA has also won nine region championships the past 10 seasons, so one should expect them to be in contention in Region 13. Defending region champ Grantsville likely will garner most of the attention as a preseason favorite after last year’s 18-3 campaign.
Last year was a rare down year for the Trojans, who went 9-11 and lost three of their final four games, including an overtime playoff game.
They graduated two of the top three leading scorers from last year’s team, but return junior post Eli Bailey (11.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 54% FG) and senior Nixan Ordyna (8.9 ppg).
The jury’s out on whether Morgan will be good enough to make a run at the 3A state championship, but rest assured the Trojans will probably be fine in the new-look Region 13.
In the previous four seasons, Morgan went 3-0 against Ben Lomond, 3-0 against Ogden and 1-2 against Layton Christian.
The Tigers have one returning starter, senior Ozzy Norton, from last year’s 2-18 team.
Ogden also has several key returners including seniors Jace Oliverson, Kohl Gill, Landen Smith and Alex Howard, along with juniors Austin Johnson and Chino Furniss.
Head coach Brock Randall says the team is unselfish, which could be a strength. One hurdle for the team, Randall added, is “getting past the past,” and the past hasn’t been too kind for the Tigers (they’re 10-53 the last three seasons).
Ogden opened the season last week with a 64-62 win at North Summit. Key non-region games for the Tigers include at Bonneville (Dec. 17) and home to Bear River (Dec. 30).