The high school boys basketball state playoffs start this week in the 6A, 5A and 4A classifications. Here are three things to watch.
DAVIS TRENDING UP
Davis, the outright Region 1 champion for the second year in a row and the No. 7 seed in the 6A playoffs, has played well all season.
Not to lean on a sports cliché, but the Darts might be playing their best basketball at the right time.
In their first seven region games of the season, Davis scored an average of 62 points per game and allowed 44.3 per game. In the closing seven: 64.7 per game scoring, 39.6 per game against.
Chance Trujillo went from averaging 8.5 points per game before the second round of region games to 10.4 at regular season’s end. The Darts are also turning the ball over less (from 11.3 per game through 15 games to 10.1 per game now).
Part of the upward trend is probably subtle adjustments made by the coaching staff (reminder: DHS head coach Chad Sims won Standard-Examiner All-Area Coach of the Year in 2020) to gain an advantage in the second round of region games.
Another part is likely due to the team — which had to replace four starters and most of its scoring — finally starting to gel and know what it does best. Even so, this is what every team wants: to trend up as the season winds down.
The upward trend comes amid two things: a predictably down year for Region 1, which had three of last year’s four semifinalists but via senior-heavy teams, and an incredibly competitive Region 4.
On the Region 1 side of things, state champion Fremont graduated all of last year’s starters and most of its bench, Davis graduated four starters and a big part of its bench and Layton graduated its whole backcourt.
Five of the top six seeds are from the Utah County-heavy Region 4, led by No. 1 Westlake. It’s expected Region 4 will produce the state champion, but if there’s a team that can make the semifinals from outside that group, Davis appears to be one.
A POTENTIAL LAYTON-DAVIS PLAYOFF GAME
Even in a pandemic year, the 6A bracket reveal caused a huge stir of excitement between Davis and Layton’s fanbases. The No. 7 Darts have a first-round bye and face the winner of No. 23 West and ... No. 10 Layton.
They were a few points away from facing off at the Huntsman Center in last year’s state title game (LHS lost to Fremont in the quarters), and they were 3 points away from meeting in the 2015 title game at Weber State that Layton won.
Should Layton beat the Panthers in their first-round matchup, there would be a third helping of Davis County’s best basketball rivalry this season (they split the regular-season series).
In a non-pandemic year, a Davis-Layton home playoff game would probably attract a standing-room-only crowd as well as the fire marshal. They’ll have to settle for limited capacity, but even then, the buzz would be palpable.
Some teams can be tough to deal with in the regular season then be easy in the postseason. Not Bonneville, especially taking the last two years into context.
In 2019, the Lakers went to the 4A semifinals and lost a heartbreaker to Bear River when a last-ditch shot nearly went in, then rolled off the front of the rim.
Last year, the No. 22 Lakers went on the road to No. 11 Brighton, trailed by 8 at halftime and lost by 2. In 2021, they’re the No. 11 seed, which doesn’t scream dark horse to anyone on the surface.
Below the surface, though, the Lakers are a very tough out. For lack of a better term, every game is a rock fight.
They give up a 5A-best 43.4 points per game on defense and score just 47.6 per game themselves, the second-lowest in 5A.
According to statistics compiled by the Standard-Examiner this season, Bonneville isn’t just good at keeping teams off the scoreboard. The Lakers are very good at holding teams well below their scoring average.
In 19 games this year, teams have scored an average of 12.2 points lower than their average when playing Bonneville.
Some highlights this year include holding a Sky View team averaging 70.1 ppg to 37, or holding Farmington to 48 after the Phoenix came into the teams’ first meeting averaging 68.2 per game.
Hillcrest, Bonneville’s first-round opponent, averages 52 points per game. Should the Lakers win that, they’d likely face No. 6 Timpanogos (62.9 ppg) in the second round with the winner likely seeing No. 3 Lehi (62.5 ppg) in the quarters.
FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFF GAMES
Tuesday, Feb. 23
- : No. 18 Ben Lomond at No. 15 Bear River, No. 21 Ogden at No. 12 Stansbury
, Feb. 24
- : No. 29 Spanish Fork at No. 4 Farmington, No. 23 West at No. 10 Layton, No. 20 Jordan at No. 13 Fremont, No. 18 Hunter at No. 15 Weber, No. 22 Hillcrest at No. 11 Bonneville, No. 21 Roy at No. 12 Kearns, No. 23 Orem at No. 10 Bountiful, No. 19 Wasatch at No. 14 Viewmont, No. 17 Salem Hills at No. 16 Woods Cross, No. 28 Box Elder at No. 5 Mountain View, No. 22 Syracuse at No. 11 Cyprus, No. 24 Northridge at No. 9 Lone Peak