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Union slim favorite in balanced field

Of all the girls state basketball tournaments being held over the next couple of weeks, none is more wide open than the 3A tournament which begins Friday at various school sites.

Last year's state champion Carbon still has a chance to defend its crown, but must defeat Canyon View in a play-in game just to make the tournament field of 16 teams. Should the Dinos win, they have the formidable task of playing a first-round game at second-ranked Snow Canyon.If any team were favored to win the tournament it would have to be No. 1-ranked Union. With a balanced offensive attack led by Alicia Uresk, the Cougars finished the season at 19-1 overall and went undefeated in arguably the toughest region (Region 10) in 3A. A tourney title would be the first for the Cougars since 1987.

At 18-2, Snow Canyon also went undefeated in winning the Region 9 title, but that may be a bit misleading since the second-place team in the region finished just 10-10 on the season. The Warriors do have solid wins over North Sanpete and Richfield to their credit.

The team that may put fear into the hearts of its opponents the most is fourth-ranked Emery. The Spartans (14-6) tied for the Region 8 title with North Sanpete, but are the region's second-place seed after losing a coin toss.

With 3A volleyball MVP Adrianne Bradley averaging a double-double, Emery is riding a nine-game winning streak that includes wins over North Sanpete, Uintah and Wasatch.

"These kids play a lot of volleyball, and it means a lot to them," said Emery head coach Duane Merrell. "It took a while to get their basketball legs underneath them, but they've really played well lately."

The question mark in this year's tournament is what sort of an impact will the former 4A schools make? Third-ranked Bear River (16-3) went undefeated in winning the Region 7 crown, a region that includes five former 4A schools.

Following Friday's first-round action, the tournament moves on to the Dee Events Center in Ogden for games Feb 26-28.