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Boys basketball preview: All agree, lots of close games ahead in Region 5

By Patrick Carr - | Nov 22, 2021

BRIAN WOLFER, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Farmington's Truman Hendry, left, and Bonneville's Carson Jones, right, fight for the ball during a boys prep basketball game Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Washington Terrace.

With Farmington’s move to Region 1, there will be a new Region 5 boys basketball champion this season.

The problem is no one’s exactly in agreement on who that will be since most teams graduated multiple leading scorers from their 2020-21 teams. The only sure bet is there will be plenty of close games.

Of the 30 region games last year, 15 were decided by single digits.

Here’s an alphabetical, team-by-team look at Region 5 boys basketball teams ahead of the 2021-22 season, which begins Tuesday.

BONNEVILLE

Bonneville went 14-8 overall last year with postseason wins in the first and second rounds before losing to eventual state champion Lehi in the quarterfinals.

Senior post player Carson Jones is the only returning starter from last year’s team and averaged double-digit points last year with a single-game high of 19. Jones had a knee injury during football season that kept him out more than a month.

The Lakers will have a trio of players who played good minutes last year with guards Koy and Bo Dixon and forward Joe Tesch.

Anyone who’s been to a Bonneville game the past few years knows the Lakers tend to play a bunch of heart-stoppers (nine of their 10 region games last season were decided by single digits), they’re normally very good at holding opponents under their scoring average and a lot of their games are, for lack of a better term, rock fights.

According to coach Kyle Bullinger, the big challenge for this team is committing to the defensive end of the game.

Once again, Bonneville has several Weber and Davis County teams on its nonregion schedule: at Clearfield (Dec. 1), at Roy (Dec. 10), home to Ogden (Dec. 17), at Weber (Dec. 21) and at Fremont (Dec. 30).

BOUNTIFUL

The Redhawks went 12-12 last season with four seniors as their leading scorers, so Bountiful figures to look pretty different this year, but the Redhawks tend to be competitive year in and year out, and no one’s expecting any sort of decline there.

Bountiful opens with West on Nov. 30 and has key nonregion games against Lehi (Dec. 3), at Layton (Dec. 14), a tournament in St. George (Dec. 16-18), a home game with Lone Peak (Jan. 4) and a game at Real Salt Lake Academy (Jan. 7).

BOX ELDER

On last year’s 3-18 team, Box Elder had mainly seniors and sophomores and were rather unlucky to go 1-4 in single-digit region games. Fortunately for the Bees, they have three of those then-sophomores returning as juniors with some experience.

Those three are Matt Low, Jackson McKee and Cole Mortensen. Low averaged 8.2 points per game in 2020-21, McKee averaged 6.5 points with 4.7 rebounds and Mortensen averaged team highs of 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals.

Head coach Jace McKee feels good about the team’s depth and experience but added that the team is young and undersized, and he emphasized that hard work will be the key to making up for the lack of size.

Box Elder starts its season later than most, waiting until Dec. 1 to face Olympus at home.

After that, the schedule gets busy with Roy away (Dec. 3), Mountain Crest away (Dec. 7), three games at the Davis High tournament (Dec. 9-11) and another road game at Taylorsville (Dec. 14) before home games against Sky View (Dec. 17) and Bear River (Dec. 21).

Box Elder was fined $500 by the UHSAA this spring for not having its 2020-21 schedule on MaxPreps up-to-date in time for the UHSAA 5A state tournament bracket release, which along with incomplete schedules at Woods Cross and Highland caused the RPI to be recalculated before being rereleased.

NORTHRIDGE

The new team in the region, Northridge figures to slot in well competitively given the Knights are 5-3 against current Region 5 teams since the start of the 2017-18 season.

They return three starters: senior guard Sam Sivulich, senior Kade Sparrow and senior forward Jack Terry. Sivulich is technically the region’s top returning scorer, having averaged 19.7 points on 42% shooting (54 made 3-pointers) last year with 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Head coach Andrew Olson said the team will rely on speed, athleticism and versatility to help make up for a lack of size. One key to improving this year, according to Olson, is winning close games. The Knights went 3-7 in single-digit contests last year en route to a 5-19 overall record.

Northridge plays a lot of familiar teams in nonregion play including at Weber (Nov. 23), at Ben Lomond (Nov. 30), home to Fremont (Dec. 3), at Clearfield (Dec. 14) and home to Roy (Dec. 17).

VIEWMONT

Viewmont went 13-12 last season, 5-5 in Region 5 and went 7-3 over its final 10 games of the season including a first-round playoff win over Wasatch.

The Vikings are another team that graduated a lot of players last year, so they figure to look vastly different personnel-wise this season.

Viewmont will face three teams from Region 1 in the first four games of nonregion play starting with Clearfield in the Nov. 23 opener, then Layton on the road (Nov. 30) and Syracuse on the road (Dec. 2).

WOODS CROSS

If there’s a team that bucks the Region 5 curve and does return a lot of players, it’s the Wildcats, who started last season 8-4 before going 2-8 in region games.

The thing is, Woods Cross has a new head coach, Josh Margetts, so it’s likely the team will see some sort of break-in period early in the year with the new systems.

Returning starters include double-digit scorers in guard/forward Mason Bendinger (13.2 ppg) and point guard Jaxon Smith (11.8 ppg), a duo that coaches around the region have identified as a defensive priority when the time comes to face WX.

Woods Cross was fined $1,500 by the UHSAA this spring for not having its 2020-21 schedule on MaxPreps up-to-date in time for the UHSAA 5A state tournament bracket release, causing the RPI to be recalculated before being rereleased.

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