WEST VALLEY CITY — Yes, Timpview coach Perry Wildeboer believes his team is the favorite in this week's 4A state tournament.

"We are the defending champions." Wildeboer said. "Whoever takes the title has to take it from us."

How could anyone think the T-Birds aren't the favorite? OK, so maybe Lone Peak beat Timpview earlier this year en route to a 20-win season, and Mountain View and Woods Cross have enjoyed tremendous seasons. But we're talking about a Timpview team with two future BYU Cougars.

"Timpview is the favorite, no question," Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said. "They have excellent talent, they have experience and they're well coached."

Chris Miles is an athletic, dominating player at 6-foot-10, and Matthew Pinegar is one of the premier point guards in the state.

"It's hard to believe I won't have Miles and Pinegar anymore after this week," Wildeboer said. "They've won about 65 games in three years."

Wildeboer dubbed Miles the X-factor during last year's championship run, and he's gotten better — much better. Miles' 15-point average helped the T-Birds to a 16-5 record this year, including a 16-2 record against Utah teams.

"The things we get from him nobody else does," Wildeboer said. "He's the best big man in the state, hands down, defensively. Offensively, he's starting to shake the earth."

The T-Birds aren't unbeatable, though. During the preseason, Lone Peak knocked them off. Then during Region 6 play, American Fork did the same thing.

While Lone Peak's Lewis had nothing but praise for Timpview, Wildeboer returned the favor.

"They have the blend of talent that you need to be a great high school team," Wildeboer said. "They've got a big guy in the middle, they have a quick point guard that thinks of distribution and they have two shooters."

Everyone's dream state title game can't happen, though. After racking up a 20-1 record, Lone Peak drew the short straw with co-region champ Mountain View and earned the No. 2 seed from Region 7. If the Knights and T-Birds are fortunate enough to advance to the semifinals, they would face each other.

"Anybody who tells you they don't look at the whole bracket is lying," Lewis said, "but to me more than most teams in the tournament we need to be concerned with Sky View because we don't have a single player who has played one minute in the state tournament."

Wildeboer feels the same way.

"You cannot look past a state tournament game," he said. "You're in the wrong business if you think you can just show up and win those games. You can't stub your toe and recover from that."

Timpview opens with Murray at 11:10 a.m. today, and Lone Peak faces Sky View at 2:30 p.m.

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Even though Lone Peak and Timpview are the favorites, they're not the only legitimate contenders.

After struggling to a 1-20 mark in 2003, Region 5 champion Woods Cross was the surprise team of 2004 in finishing with a 16-5 record. The Wildcats, along with Region 5 runner-up Olympus and Region 7 co-champ Mountain View, are considered to be among the favorites with Timpview and Lone Peak.

Even though many people believe Region 4 was the weakest region in the state, region co-champion Box Elder has the talent to get back to the state championship game.

E-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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