Facebook Twitter

ONCE AGAIN, HURRICANE GIRLS SEEM TO BE 3A TEAM TO BEAT

SHARE ONCE AGAIN, HURRICANE GIRLS SEEM TO BE 3A TEAM TO BEAT

The last time there was a repeat girl's basketball champion in the 3A ranks, Ronald Reagan was still in the White House and Michael Jordan had yet to win an NBA scoring title.

The Provo Bulldogs of 1987 were the last team to successfully defend its 3A crown, which gives this classification the longest streak in the state without a repeat champion. The top-ranked Hurricane Tigers are hoping that streak will come to an end this season.Hurricane won the state title last year after being moved to 3A due to the state's classification changes. Coupled with their 2A title in 1993, the Tigers are gunning for a third-straight championship this year and fifth in the last eight years under head coach Tom Hughes, who is calling it quits after this season.

So far during its preseason schedule, Hurricane looks prime to accomplish the feat, garnering a 5-2 record with its losses coming in an out-of-state tournament.

The Tigers have been led in scoring this year by Hughes' daughter, Natalie. The 5-foot-10 center is averaging nearly 17 points an outing. That includes a clutch 24-point performance in a comeback win against second-ranked North Sanpete two weeks ago. Michon Hepworth must also play a big role if the Tigers are to repeat.

Hurricane will get some stiff competition from teams in its own region, let alone the rest of 3A schools.

Fifth-ranked Pine View fell to the Tigers three times last year, including a four-point loss in the state championship game. The Panthers are hoping that is something Hurricane won't repeat this year and are relying on seniors Cori Benson, Brittany Esplin and Tiffany Turek to see that it doesn't.

Benson led Pine View in 3-pointers made last year and is on her way to doing the same this season after draining four in the Panthers' victory over Carbon on Saturday.

Dixie and Cedar City each have .500 or above preseason records, but the surprising team in Region 9 is Snow Canyon. The first-year Warriors are 6-3, thanks to the scoring efforts of junior Mary Jo Colf, who played at Pine View last year.

North Sanpete of Region 11 will also rely on three returning starters in its quest for a state title. Kathryn McAllister, Tawnya Crumb and Heather Pyper lead the offensive charge of the Hawks and know what winning a championship is all about. The three helped guide North Sanpete's volleyball team to its second-straight 3A title last month.

Richfield has come out of nowhere to grab a No. 3 ranking in this week's poll after compiling a 7-1 record behind the efforts of senior Melissa Penny and junior Alicia Bird.

Emery, Carbon and Delta have struggled in the preseason with none having a winning record.

Region 10's Wasatch has used the scoring of Christy Shepherd and the point-guard abilities of Allison Thacker to earn a 6-3 preseason record. Shepherd was the leading 3A scorer last year and is at a 20-point per game pace this season.

Both Shepherd and Thacker were on an all-star team that traveled to Australia over the summer, giving them valuable experience that can only help the Wasps.

Dea Madsen and Melissa Busch of Uintah are two of the top scorers in 3A, helping the Utes to a 5-2 preseason mark and providing hope of dethroning the Wasps as region champions.