Boys basketball preview: Filled with college-bound players, Region 1 could be very exciting
With three Division-I players and plenty more college-level talent spread among the prep boys basketball teams in Region 1, region games could be very exciting.
Region games begin on Friday, Jan. 12. Below is an alphabetical, team-by-team look at the Region 1 boys basketball teams.
Davis went 14-12 and 6-6 in Region 1 last year with a new-look team that, nonetheless, reached the 6A quarterfinals. The Darts were one of five Region 1 teams with 14-16 wins in what became a parity-filled region.
They graduated two of their top three scorers, but return three starters: senior guard Ike Morgan, senior forward Zach Fisher and junior guard Coleman Atwater, plus rotation players Caleb Taylor (senior) and Bennett Wright (junior).
Fisher averaged team-highs of 12.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Morgan led the team with 3.9 assists. Atwater averaged 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds, playing particularly well late in the season.
As of Thursday, Davis is 2-1 with double-digit wins against Copper Hills and West Jordan, and an 83-80 loss to Pleasant Grove.
The Darts have three games next week in their home tournament, a 6A-versus-5A challenge, before two games in California and three tough games against Bingham, Mountain Ridge and Lehi in the new year.
Given the Darts’ experience, talent and propensity to win Region 1, expect them to be in the mix for the title. Rivalry games against Layton are on Jan. 16 (home) and Feb. 6 (away), and against Farmington on Jan. 23 (away) and Feb. 13 (home).
A year ago, Farmington went 15-9 overall, 6-6 in Region 1 and lost a second-round playoff game at Syracuse. The Phoenix should be in the thick of things with four returning starters, led by 6-foot-8 senior post Paul Beattie, who’s a three-year starter and led the team in scoring and rebounding last season.
Seniors Ethan Atkinson, Jayden Haskell and Braden Larsen make up a group of four returning starters, with seniors Ethan Harris and Carter Nordquist as returning rotation players for an experienced team. Haskell averaged double-digit scoring and Atkinson was second in rebounding.
“I believe our strengths are our ability to play people inside with our two (6-foot-8) post players and to play people outside with our ability to shoot from 3 from every varsity player,” head coach Kasey Walkenhurst said. “We can really stretch the floor when needed and we can really pound the ball inside when needed.”
How hard the team wants to guard on defense and selflessness are two main hurdles for Farmington, Walkenhurst added.
As of Thursday, the Phoenix is 2-0 with wins over Viewmont and Bonneville. Tougher games await against Bingham and Mountain Ridge, plus a three-game tournament in Orlando, Florida.
Farmington hosts Davis on Jan. 23 and visits Davis on Feb. 13 in games that will likely attract standing-room-only crowds.
The defending Region 1 champions have one returning starter, but that’s Weber State signee Hunter Hansen, a senior shooting guard who’s started since his freshman year, gone through multiple knee injuries and will play all over the floor.
Point guard Easton Duft, who came off the bench, is the only other main returner. Senior Ryker Saunders (16.3 points per game in three games) has been an early standout.
“Our strength will be our team chemistry, lack of jealousy, and shooting ability,” head coach Corey Melaney said.
Despite inexperience, Melaney thinks the team’s ready for the varsity level. The Silverwolves should probably be in the mix for the Region 1 title yet again. As of Thursday, Fremont is 3-0, including a comeback, overtime win over Northridge last week.
The rest of the non-region schedule is tricky, with the 6A-5A tournament at Davis, followed by road games at Olympus and Bountiful, home games with Sky View and Bonneville, and a roadie at Skyridge before region play. Rivalry games against Weber are on Jan. 19 (away) and Feb. 9 (home).
If there’s any favorite in Region 1, it’s Layton, but the region’s also so competitive that there are likely to be 2-3 teams with a shot on the final week.
Layton returns multi-year starting seniors Mekhi Martin (point guard) and KJ Miller (shooting guard), the latter of whom signed with Cal State San Marcos last month.
The Lancers also won the transfer lottery when Utah signee David Katoa joined Layton, his home-boundary school, after three years at an RSL Academy school that folded its independent basketball program. Katoa is rehabbing a torn ACL and is expected to be ready for region play.
“We need guys to buy in, accept roles, and hopefully stay healthy. If those things can happen, we will have a successful season,” head coach Kelby Miller said.
The Lancers have been close to a region title — they were second place by one game last year — but haven’t won the region since 2017. They went 16-8 last year and lost to Westlake in the second round of the playoffs.
Along with Martin and Miller, Layton brings rotation players Cade Tidwell (senior guard), Sam Romer (junior wing), Josh Checketts (junior wing) and Jonah Fullmer (junior guard) into the mix.
As of Thursday, Layton is 3-0 including a comeback, double-overtime win over Timpview.
After a 15-win season and a state quarterfinal appearance, Syracuse graduated its top six scorers. Lance Gummersall, who was the head coach at both Herriman and Cottonwood, is the Titans’ new head coach.
As of Thursday, the Titans are 1-0 after a comeback, 52-50 win over Roy. Syracuse won’t have another home game until Dec. 28 against Clearfield.
Before that, it has Bonneville, then three games in the 6A-5A tournament at Davis, American Fork and Riverton, all on the road. Additional information about this year’s team was requested, but not provided.
Utah Tech-bound guard Hunter Schenck is the third D-I player in the region, and anchors a Weber team that went 6-16 last year. Schenck, Malachi Spencer and Tyler Payne are the three main returners. Schenck, an explosive guard, averaged 22.5 points per game.
Payne, a junior who just received a football scholarship offer from BYU, averaged six points per game. Spencer, a senior wing, averaged 5.8, which included a 24-point outburst in a 70-67 win over Layton last year, and he’s being tabbed as a possible breakout player in the region.
“This is a tight-knit group that will come to battle every day,” head coach Landon Cosby said.
Defense and rebounding will be the team’s biggest challenges, Cosby added. As of Thursday, the Warriors are 2-0 with double-digit wins over Box Elder and Spanish Fork.
After three games at the 6A-5A tournament at Davis, the Warriors host Bonneville (Dec. 13) and Clearfield (Dec. 15), go to Northridge (Dec. 19), host Bear River (Dec. 27) and visit Roy (Dec. 29).
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at email@example.com, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.