Men's open basketball - the undisputed drawing card of the Utah Summer Games - initiated play Thursday with the strongest-ever field of competition.
Look at the names that are here - Marty Haws, the Grants, the Judkins, Reid Newey, Jimmy Soto, the Andruses, and a number of fresh-out-of-high-school new faces who could be the state's household names in a season or two. And look at the names of those who didn't make it - the Roberts, the Santiagos, and Willie Sojourner, the former college/pro star who is missing his first Summer Games finals in five years.The teams have corporate-sponsor names, but most are better recognized for the colleges and high schools that they represent or the players - or brothers - who help comprise the squad.
There's the Untouchables, otherwise known as Haws' team - a BYU/Timpview High-flavored squad that includes collegians like Haws, Todd Crow, Jay Chessman, Rob Ross, David Reeves, and Steve and Alan Andrus. That team is the co-favorite, along with Metalcraft Technologies, better tagged as "the Grant team." Its members include the Josh-Greg-Nate-Jason quartet of Grant brothers, along with the adopted son/guard they never had in University of Utah sparkplug Jimmy Soto.
Longview Fiber has the Utah State connection of Reid Newey, Greg Housekeeper, Jeff Anderson and Randy Funk; Del Rowe Law is Jeff and Jon Judkins, along with Utah players like Keith Chapman and Craig Rydalch; the Print Shack team from Ogden has some Weber State background; and the same is true for the JB's team, with the hometown favorite sporting a number of current and former SUSC players.
Ruffners is coached by former BYU player Paul Ruffner and has son/graduated prepster Bryon as one of the squad's many recent high school standouts, along with Quincy Lewis, Eric Franson, Jim DeGraffenried and Justyn Tebbs. And Tracy's is comprised of players from Emery County High's two-state-title-taking teams - with one exception. Emery Coach Todd Jeffs is playing in place of one absent 7-foot-6 guy by the name of Shawn Bradley.
In opening-night open-division action at the SUSC Centrum, JB's defeated Print Shack 87-86 on Roger McDonald's running one-hander with :08 left. Jerry Naulls led JB's with 24 points, while the Print Shack duo of Dave Johnson and Todd Harper tallied 34 and 31 points, respectively.
The Untouchables didn't live up to their name for a good part of their game against Del Rowe Law, with six-player Judkins and Co. leading for most of the first three quarters. But Haws scored 11 of his 22 points in the final quarter as the Untouchables outscored their oppoents 26-17 in the last eight minutes for a 92-86 victory. Rydalch had a team-high 23 for Del Rowe.
In Thursday night's late, late games, Longview Fiber downed Ruffner 109-96 as Newey scored 31 and Franson finished with 24. And Metalcraft toyed with Tracy's in a 105-94 victory, with Soto sinking 24 points and Jeffs tossing in a day's best 46 points.
In the men's scholastic, two of the top returning prep guards went head to head, with Brighton High's Alex Fisher scoring 38 points and Timpview's Richard Jackson finishing with a team-high 23. But Timpview beat the Bengals (Brighton) 72-65 to join Bonneville, North Sevier and Davis as the four semifinalists.
In the women's scholastic, Mountain View faces Orem/Timpview Friday for the gold. In another Friday final, the Rebels from the North Region faces Salt Lake Region's Rags in the boys' junior division.
Other Utah Summer Games highlights included:
Equestrian: Salt Lake City's Stacy Romesburg won three medals in Thursday's adult competition - in the working hunter, hunter under saddle and hunter hack events. And Sandy's Mary McCombs claimed four golds in the junior division - working hunter, hunter under saddle, hunter hack and jumping.
Soccer: In Thursday's youth finals, the Salt Lake City's Firebirds won the gold-medal match in the under-14 division, while teams from the West Valley Strikers won the under-13 and under-10 golds.
Shooting: Spanish Fork's Suzanne Warnock took a trio of gold medals - in the junior three-position rifle, aggregate and prone-English. Other double-gold winners included Bountiful's Bud Benard in the senior division; Lehi's Edwin Gibbs in the open; Provo's Dean Hutchison in the overall; and Spanish Fork's Karen Warnock in the intermediate.
Horseshoes: Ogden's 4 Mormons horseshoe team combined for a record 959 mark in the master division; Washington's Awesome 4 won the scholastic gold, and Richfield's Flying A's won the open.
Swimming: Bountiful's Kia Hogson set a record time of 2 minutes, 43.04 seconds in the women's 200-yard backstroke in the 25-34 age division; she also won golds in the 50 fly and 200 IM. Park City's Gail Meakins won a pair of golds in the 35-44 division, with a 28.08 record-setting time in the 50 free and win in the 50 fly.
In the men's competition, Salt Lake City's Jim Wilson won four golds in the 35-44 age division, including records in the 50 fly (25.55 seconds) and 50 free (23.93). Delta's Manley Abbott, who holds all the records in the 55-64 division, continued to be in a class by hiimself - literally; speaking, since his two golds Thursday came by swimming against no competing peers.
Ogden's Peter Jahsman and Logan's Glenn Mortensen set new records in the 1,650 free in their age divisions - 19:08.00 for Jahsman in the 25-34 division and 212:10.00 for Mortensen in the 35-44. West Jordan's Dennis Tesch was also a double-gold winner in the men's swimming.
Cycling: National qualifiers Danny Cooper of Clarkston and Cris Fox of St. George finished 1-2 in the boys' 15-16 criterium, while Steve Tibbits of the South Region won the 17-18 division. St. George's Pam Fernley was the top women's finisher, while Hurricane's Roy Hoyt surprised favored Larry Bray of Bicknell in the men's open.