Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct earlier errors in the Woods Cross and Ogden paragraphs. The Standard-Examiner regrets the errors.
Welcome to basketball season! Technically, basketball started last Tuesday but this week marks the first jam-packed week of hoops in the 2018-19 season.
The Standard-Examiner's region and team previews for boys basketball, as well as players to watch, are here to get you ready for the hardwood.
Girls basketball previews will publish online and in print Tuesday, Nov. 27.
Three of the top five leading scorers from last year’s team graduated, but the Falcons have a couple solid returners in senior Grayson Banks (7.4 points, 3.4 rebounds per game) and junior Connor Izatt (3.9 points, 1.4 rebounds), the latter who already has a 26-point game this year. Kaden Swanson is another player to watch. Clearfield, which went 4-17 overall and 0-12 in region play last year, has nine juniors, four seniors and two sophomores on its roster.
The Darts have a lot of balance, so they should be right in the mix for a region title. They return senior forward Brendon Redford (9 points, 7.2 rebounds), junior Trevan Leonhardt and junior Jake Sampson. Perhaps the most intriguing returner is 6-foot-6 senior guard Tyson Garff (12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists), who's listed as a 3-star recruiting prospect and the seventh-ranked senior in Utah by 247sports.com.
The defending Region 1 champions still have reason to believe they could repeat this winter. Fremont returns possibly the best back court in the area in juniors Dallin Hall (16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists) and Baylor Harrop (12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists). Hall, rated a 2-star prospect by Verbal Commits, has had a busy offseason, picking up scholarship offers from Utah Valley and Idaho State. They’ll have just two seniors — Calvin Peterson and Ryken Nye — but the feeling is Fremont is still the team to beat in the region.
Senior post Collin Jeppson is the only returner who started or played varsity minutes, so this year’s Lancers group is young and inexperienced. Growing pains should be expected, especially with a tough non-region schedule, but never count Layton out, especially once the games start to matter. The Lancers went to the 6A semifinals last year after finishing second in the region.
Jeppson picked up an offer from Fresno Pacific (Division II) in October. He averaged 11.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game last season. A couple more names to keep an eye on are Tanner Kofoed and Ethan Potter.
Alec Duffin is probably the most visible returner, having averaged 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game last season. He announced himself to the region with a late 3-pointer to beat Layton. Northridge has some winnable games on its non-region slate, which could help a relatively new group gel by the time January comes around. The Knights will always have speed and be tough to defend.
Syracuse is going to be short on returners this year and will have a Brock Gilbert-sized hole to fill on defense and offense. Kingston Williams (5.5 points, 3.8 rebounds) is the leading returning scorer, but senior Blake Soifua dropped 28 in the season opener so it's probably best to keep an eye on him. With the departure of several high-impact players, the Titans might have a different makeup this year.
Speedy senior guard Hudson Schenck (9.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds) and senior post Braedon Iverson (5.6 points, 8 rebounds) anchor a big, physical and somewhat young team. The Warriors upset top-seeded Kearns in the state playoffs last year and, with their size, could contend for a region title. They should at least be a playoff team.
There are no new head coaches in the region ... Davis is traveling to North Carolina to play two games at Ronald Reagan High (Dec. 13) and East Forsyth (Dec. 14) ... Davis and Fremont are playing in the prestigious Elite 8 Tournament at American Fork High; the tournament field includes Bountiful, American Fork, defending 5A champ Olympus, the same Copper Hills team that beat Fremont in last year's state quarterfinals, 5A finalist Corner Canyon and Bingham. Tough, huh? ... On Nov. 26, Northridge plays Wasatch at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz, at 1 p.m ... Region games start Friday, Jan. 4.
There is a lot of potential with Bountiful this year. Like, big potential. The Braves have a trio of high-scoring returners in Brig Willard (17.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.4 steals, 1.1 blocks), Camron Chism (11.9 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals) and Isaac Kime (11 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 3.4 steals). They went to the 5A semifinals last season before getting shredded by the Olympus machine. Bountiful not only has those returners, but there’s a lot of size on this team, too. If there’s a warning, it’s this: potential doesn’t always equal results.
Three main contributors return for defending Region 5 champion Box Elder: senior forward Tyson Madson (13.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 57.6 shooting percentage), senior guard Ronni Smith (4.7 points, 2.2 assists) and sophomore post Parker Buchanan (3.9 points, 2.6 rebounds). If last Wednesday's game against Timpview is any indication, Madson and Buchanan are going to be relied on heavily. Box Elder has a lot going for it this year and should be right in the region title mix.
The Phoenix are actually going to have some experience this year with two seniors from Viewmont and one from Davis. Kendall Draxler (6.6 points, 3.1 assists) figures to be a key contributor this year. Farmington has some height with five players at 6-foot-5 or taller. Kasey Walkenhurst is the first-ever Phoenix head coach, coming over from Woods Cross where he won back-to-back region titles in 2016 and 2017.
Sophomore guard Kobe Schriver (6.6 points) and senior Jake Parkin (4.1 points) are the leading returning scorers for a team that figures to be both parts fast and big. The Royals will have some size and a fair amount of new bodies, but they’re hoping Kyrese Rowan stays healthy this year, too. Fun fact; they’re playing Ogden (at Ogden, Dec. 5) for the first time since February 2015.
Last year’s region runner-up enters this year a little more unknown than years past. Part of that’s due to three leading scorers graduating. The other part is due to Farmington opening, chipping into depth. Guard Parker Kearns (6 points, 1.4 rebounds) is the only significant returning contributor. The Vikings' non-region gauntlet includes Lone Peak, American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Olympus, Davis and Layton.
Jeff Jorgensen comes in as the new head coach for the Wildcats. The Washington native has coached locally at Roy and Layton before coming into Woods Cross’ program. Leading scorer Dax Gorringe (13.2 points, 3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.2 steals) is no longer at Woods Cross, so 6-foot-3 junior guard Jake Howe (7.3 points, 2.3 rebound) is the leading returning scorer.
Bountiful drew American Fork in the first game of the Elite 8 Tournament at American Fork High ... Roy is playing Ogden and Bonneville in the same season for the first time since 2015 when they were all in the same region; the Royals haven't lost to Ogden since 2010 ... Farmington coach Kasey Walkenhurst went 14-9 in his first year at Woods Cross as he prepares for the first season ever at FHS ... Six of Woods Cross' 11 non-region games are against 6A schools ... Viewmont is one of two schools in the area to have two defending state champions (Lone Peak and Olympus) on its schedule (the other is Layton) ... Region games start Friday, Jan. 11.
The lone local team to make the playoffs out of Region 11 last year has a decent chance at doing it again this year. Combine a tough defensive team with a solid group of returners (Kinnon Finder, Hank Bushell and Elijah Mason) and you might be talking about more than a fourth seed. The caveat is that Juan Diego’s reloaded, Stansbury and Tooele don’t drop off too much and Park City returns 92 percent of last year’s scoring. The region might be tougher this year than last.
Begin the Brock Randall era at Ogden. The Tigers’ new coach was previously at Northridge and has goals for Ogden: get the Tigers back to their early 1990s prominence. It’ll be tough, the first reason being that the region overall could be better than last season (and Ogden missed the playoffs by two games last season). The Tigers don’t have a wealth of returning scorers. Ogden’s highest returning scorer is Isaiah Coria (3.2 points).
Junior Garet Rentmeister (6.9 points), senior Stephon Watson (6.1 points) and junior Titus Hughes (4.9) are the team’s leading returning scorers and they ranked second, third and fourth on the team in that category last season, respectively. There's a fair bit of optimism that the Scots can improve on last year's two-win season. Their non-region schedule gives them a wide spectrum of tests: chances to play pretty good teams and chances to get some wins and confidence.
Ogden's February win over Ben Lomond gave the Tigers a 7-game winning streak in the series, which has come right after Ben Lomond had a 6-game win streak ... Bonneville and Ogden have split the last 18 games between each other (9-9) ... Since 2006, Ben Lomond has a 14-7 record against Grantsville, the best by the Scots against any team in that time period; BLHS goes to Grantsville on Dec. 19.
Senior Trey Miles (14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists), senior Tyson Hurd (8.6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) and Kaleb Calderwood (6.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) anchor a team that has a good mix of experience and new faces. The Trojans went 22-3 last year with a Region 13 championship. They should be right in the mix for both the region and state titles come February.
It’s Layton Christian’s region to lose. The Eagles have more talent than anyone else and they’ll be helped in Region 16 by coming through a brutal non-region schedule. They get Lino Saez (8.5 points) and Micah Petty (7.8 points) back this year to head up the returning group. Petty might be one of the best point guards in the area and Saez can take over a game if it needs to be taken over, so LCA is in good hands. LCA has won seven-straight region titles spanning two classifications and three regions. The Eagles' region record in that time: 67-1.
Practically every one of St. Joseph's top scorers returns this season, headed by senior forward Gavin Anderson (11.7 points). The Jayhawks went 3-20 last year and have a new head coach, Demarkco Armstrong, who will see if St. Joes can get back to its level of success it enjoyed at the 1A level. Region 16 doesn't lend the Jayhawks any favors.
The third season of basketball commences for Utah Military Academy following a 3-17 campaign in 2017-18. The Thunderbirds have a new head coach, Rich Wolfert, the third head coach in as many years. Last season's top scorers graduated, so this will be a new bunch for UMA this season.