In looking over Bingham coach Rand Rasmussen's preseason questionnaire, one would think his Lady Miner basketball team would be in a serious rebuilding year.

Despite winning the 5A state title last year, Rasmussen picked his team to finish fifth in Region 3 this season, stating that he has his youngest team in 15 years to work with.But Rasmussen's opposing coaches know better. Noting that 6-foot-3 seniors Malinda Lynch and Emily Van Dyke are returning, the coaches ranked Bingham as the team to beat in the 5A ranks this year. That's exactly what Rasmussen is trying to get his players to understand during preseason play.

"When you're ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 8 (now No. 7) in the west region every team can make their season in one game by beating you," Rasmussen said. "For us, we have to play every game."

The Lady Miners have had their learning experiences during the preseason, pulling out one-point victories over Skyline and Olympus en route to an undefeated preseason record to date. Lynch and Van Dyke, who have signed to play for Washington and Pacific, respectively, have played key roles so far and must continue to do so for Bingham to win its second straight title.

Bingham should get a stiff challenge from West Jordan and Taylorsville just to win the Region 3 title.

The Jaguars have recorded a 4-2 preseason record while playing a tough schedule. A strong defense will keep West Jordan in nearly every game along with the offense of seniors Caryn Ketcham and Becky Hogan.

Taylorsville is off to a sparkling 7-1 record with victories coming mostly against 4A teams. The Warriors are young, with only one senior, but are quickly gaining needed experience.

While shocking for a first year school, the early season success of Fremont in Region 1 was expected by its region rivals. The Silver Wolves welcomed top players Katie Haws and Arlene Williams from Weber and Tenille Howe and Nicole Vaughn from Roy, which formed the nucleus of a solid team. A 7-1 record, with only a one-point loss to American Fork, is evidence of the talent this team possesses.

Second-year school Northridge also has had a strong preseason, posting a 5-2 record that includes a region-opening win on Tuesday over Bonneville.

The fourth-ranked Skyline Eagles, with four returning starters, made an early statement by taking Bingham to the wire. The Eagle defense even held Bingham scoreless for one quarter. Head coach Deb Bennett is in her fifth year at Skyline and Rasmussen touted her as one of the top five coaches in the state.

Bountiful will challenge Skyline for the Region 2 title with its two potent scorers in Candie Pitcher and Karie Allen. The Braves won their first four games but have now lost two in a row.

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Region 4 is probably the strongest in 5A with four very good teams. Second-ranked Mountain View looked unbeatable this preseason until it fell to Timpview at home on Tuesday. The Bruins have a strong inside game with Brandi Daniels at the center position and Lori Henry at one forward.

American Fork is one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the state with a 5-0 record. Jaycee Webster and Rosie Shelly have led the offensive attack for the Cavewomen, who fell to Bingham in the championship game last year.

Hillcrest struggled last year to a 6-14 record but has rebounded with a strong 5-2 start this season. Four seniors start for the Huskies and if they provide the leadership needed, head coach Sarah Habel feels her team could be in the hunt. Amber Pehrson and Heather Hofmann are the top scorers this season for Hillcrest.

Also rebounding from a subpar 1993 season is Orem, which is 4-3 after a loss to Bingham on Tuesday. Seniors Carrie Taylor and Lindsey Tate are the leaders on a very young team.

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