The Region 20 tournament has a history of making the 1A tournament brackets a nightmare.
This year is no exception.
“It did have a victim, as it usually does,” said Panguitch head coach Clint Barney. “It’s still the only one of its kind of the 20 regions, and for those of us who grew up in this area and still live here, it’s just one of those events that’s second to none.”
So while fans and most coaches love the tournament that determines seeding regardless of the rest of region play, it does have a tendency to cause some issues.
This year, top-ranked Panguitch won the tournament and thus the top seed. But fourth-ranked Bryce Valley, the region’s second place team after region play, lost in the first round sending them into the tournament as a fifth seed.
That means the Mustangs will have to win a play-in game against Manila before they even get a shot at a first round opponent. If they win, Bryce Valley will take on Region 18’s top seed, St. Joseph.
“In my opinion, they’ve got to be considered one of the favorites to win it all,” Barney said. “It’s not going to deter them from playing well and having a good showing.”
The Jayhawks have three players averaging double digits – Nick Gruet (20.26 points), Matt Morton (13.78 points), and Masen White (13 points).
Barney said Region 20 is extremely deep this year with third-ranked Diamond Ranch entering the tournament as a second seed.
Parity promises to make the tournament an exciting one.
“I think there’s a dozen teams that could really beat any other team on a given night,” Barney said. “I don’t know if I could say there are a dozen teams that could win it all, but there are a lot of teams that could win on a given night.”
The Bobcats open the tournament with the winner of the Green River/West Desert play-in game.
Second-ranked Tabiona owns Region 17’s top seed and it faces the winner of the Wendover/Wayne play-in game. The Tigers are led by Dusty Jones, who averages 16 points and 8.95 rebounds, and Dylan Lefler, who adds 12.73 points and 5.64 rebounds.
Fifth-ranked Monticello will play either Piute, another team Barney is a dark horse, or Intermountain Christian School. The Buckaroos are led by Matt Freestone, who averages 15.48 points per game.
The first round of the tournament begins Wednesday at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.