With a 25-1 record, a solid group of starters and returners and a 1999-2000 1A state championship, it would be hard to bet against the Green River Pirates.

And not many 1A coaches are as the Pirates enter the 2000-01 campaign ranked right where they left off one year ago — No. 1.

"It's not as hard to be ranked No. 1 as it is to stay there," Green River coach Stan Parsons said. "There are some pretty good teams in 1A this year."

Altamont, Valley, Panguitch and Waterford round out the Top 5, with Rich, Tabiona and Piute knocking on the door.

Led by senior guard Kalen Parsons (6-foot-4, 18 points per game and 6.4 assists), senior center Brian Johnson (5 ppg, 3 rebounds) and senior Jordan Bayles (7 points, 4 rebounds), the Pirates are ready for the chance to repeat.

"I think teams will find that Kalen is not the only one they will have to watch out for," Stan Parsons said. "We are going to be strong top to bottom. If we can figure out the defensive end we will be there in the end."

Every player on the varsity basketball team was part of the 2000 1A state baseball championship team this fall, and they would love to repeat as basketball champions.

Already the Pirates are 2-0 with wins at Wayne and Grand.

Along with that threesome, the Pirates will look for help from juniors Kody King and Kevin Keele and sophomores Gabrin Ekker and Bowman Mitchell.

Interestingly enough, the Pirates were picked to finish second in Region 16 behind Altamont.

The Longhorns return one of the classification's top scorers in Tate Sorensen (6-5), who burned the nets for 23 points and 12 boards a game, and seniors Joey Meeks and Garrett Dastrup scored in double figures last year with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Valley and Panguitch will be in the running for the Region 15 championship. Valley returns only one starter in junior Marvin Hoyt (12 ppg, 9 rpg). Panguitch has a pair of returning starters in Acey Burningham and Bracken Englestead.

Waterford first-year coach Reid Monson is excited about his team, which was picked to win the Region 17 title.

"I know a good team when I see it, and this group will be very competitive," he said.

Despite possibly starting four sophomores, Dugway was tabbed to finish high in Region 14. Wendover is inexperienced as well but has three players that saw some varsity minutes last year, but Meridian could be the team to beat.

"This could be the best team Meridian has ever had," coach Vince Miner said.

Senior Ethan Taylor led Meridian with 20 points, five rebounds and two steals a game as a junior.

E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com