Girls basketball preview: Region 13 outlook for Morgan, Ogden, Ben Lomond and Layton Christian
Arguably the biggest shuffle for area teams in the last realignment happened in 4A, 3A and 2A, where Ben Lomond and Ogden dropped to 3A and Layton Christian went up to 3A.
That, plus some additional changes, created a new-look Region 13 comprised of Ben Lomond, Ogden, Morgan, Layton Christian, Grantsville and South Summit.
For everyone except Grantsville, it’s a pretty easy travel schedule — and even Grantsville’s not that far away.
Competitively speaking, Region 13 looks like a pretty tough go-round for everyone.
There are three teams who won championship trophies of some sort last season. Morgan won the 3A state championship, surging at the end of the year and pulling off upset after upset as the tournament’s No. 8 seed.
Layton Christian, up from 2A, won its region title last year.
Grantsville actually won Region 13 in 2020-21, went 22-4 overall and though the Cowboys lost their two leading scorers, they’re still well-positioned to defend the region title.
Here’s an alphabetical look at the area teams in Region 13.
The Scots’ leading scorer, senior Avery Beadles, returns to anchor a relatively young team that has experience in some aspects and inexperienced in others. Ben Lomond went 2-17 last season, beating Gunnison and Utah Military Academy.
The Scots already played one game, a 66-25 loss on Wednesday at South Sevier. In the loss, sophomore Dory Jenson scored eight points with 11 rebounds and Maleah Richey had seven rebounds.
The non-region schedule continues with Park City on the road, St. Joseph at home, Duchesne at home, Logan at home, Gunnison at home, Waterford at home, Roy on the road, Providence Hall on the road, Juab at home and American Leadership Academy on the road.
Layton Christian had a great year in 2020-21, finishing 17-5 overall, winning a region championship and getting to the state semifinals.
The difficulty level ramps way up in 3A, particularly in Region 13 which head coach Jeremy Jones calls the best region in 3A. It will be particularly challenging for the Eagles, who have one returning starter, senior guard Mia Jones (13.9 points, 11 rebounds per game last season).
Jones said the team’s defense should be very good and the overall challenge will be the team essentially starting over with a bunch of new players, among them senior guards Mine Iscen and Bianca Silva, and junior guards Ruzgar Boyle and Mariana Cubero.
The Eagles have had a good thing going the last two years and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they turn out to be a force in 3A.
Morgan was the ultimate Cinderella story of Utah prep girls basketball last season.
The Trojans went 16-8 overall, earned the No. 8 seed in the playoffs and then started upsetting teams, first the No. 1 seed South Sevier, then No. 4 Carbon, then No. 2 Emery in the title game.
And Morgan’s poised to improve in 2021-22. The Trojans return all five starters from last year’s state championship game, plus a couple additional key players who helped them down the closing stretch of the season.
Senior point guard Janel Blazzard averaged 15.1 points, 6.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game last year.
Senior post Alex Trussell averaged 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds and sophomore post Alyvia Jaffa averaged 9.5 points on 49% shooting with 10.3 rebounds.
Junior Camilla Brooks averaged 7.6 points per game and junior guard Elena Birkeland averaged 8.5 points for the season after averaging 13.1 ppg on 51.5% shooting in the seven-game win streak to close the season.
Morgan’s non-region schedule is as tough as one could make it. The Trojans opened the season Thursday at Emery. After that they’re at defending 4A state champ Sky View, home against 4A Ridgeline, at defending 2A state champ North Summit and then Morgan hosts a tournament with itself, Syracuse, Bear River, Westlake, Judge Memorial and Green Canyon.
After the tournament, the Trojans play four straight road games against good 3A schools, then they’re home against East and then the big one — at defending 6A champion Fremont on Jan. 6 to end the non-region slate.
Ogden returns two starters from last year’s 9-13 team that advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. Senior post Grace Pulley (4.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and junior guard/forward Ashley Christensen (8.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg), now a three-year starter, are those two returners.
Overall, the Tigers roster is loaded with seniors and juniors. Five bench players from last season, who are also expected to start and/or compete for starting time, are seniors Lucy Ballard, Mahine Bergeson and Heidi Balderramos, and juniors Ellie Oliverson and Ajae Belliston.
Steve Lister is the Tigers’ new head coach. He was an assistant coach the past couple seasons under then-head coach Wes Padilla.
Lister said one of the challenges the team faces is a road-heavy non-region schedule.
The Tigers opened the season at home Thursday against Juan Diego, then have consecutive road games at Roy, Tooele, Judge Memorial, Logan and Northridge, followed by a home game with Clearfield, then a tournament in Cedar City, then two home games against Bountiful and Woods Cross.
And then region games start.
“Region 13 will be a tough region, we will need to bring intention and intensity to every game to be competitive,” according to Lister.