The Skyline Eagles enter this year's 5A girls basketball tournament with a little different perspective than they did last year.
Last year they were the young underdogs who surprised everyone with their tournament run, but this year they have just one loss and sit atop the statewide rankings.
"Yes, it does (feel different)," said Eagles coach Deb Bennett. "The expectation is different from last year when you go in as one of many thinking you have a goal and a chance to meet it, and the expectation to repeat. The pressure is different."
So far the team of mostly juniors and seniors is handling the pressure well, she said.
"We talk about it a lot," she said. "In the big games, with the pressure on, I think they've done well."
The Eagles have a motto, "Commit to the goal, play in the moment," she said.
Which means that while they are working to repeat as 5A champs, they are playing in the game at hand.
"They're just working hard and doing what they can, what is in their control," she said, acknowledging they're surprisingly composed for a team led by juniors point guard Jenteal Jackson and center Dani Peterson. "They amaze me."
The Eagles open the tournament with Weber and if they win that game on Tuesday, they'll face either Kearns or Timpanogos in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The Eagles' only loss came during the pre-season to Fremont.
Davis has enjoyed an amazing season of their own where they made believers out of a lot of people who didn't think the Darts had it in them.
The Darts has just two losses, one in the pre-season to Bingham, and the other to region rival Layton in the second half of league play. The Darts rely on junior guard Dani Hosking, sophomore Allison Blake, as well as the rest of the team that is fast and relentless, especially on defense.
Davis will face Jordan in the first round of play, a team that has upset Taylorsville and given Skyline a scare.
"I think the competition gets better each year," said Bennett. "There are a handful of teams that could all be ranked in that No. 1 spot."
Bingham is currently ranked second and has just two losses this season, as well. The Miners split in region play with Riverton, but they won the coin toss giving them the higher seed. They're led by BYU-bound center Megan Marks and hard-nosed players like guard Stephanie Sampson and post Cami Hymas.
The Miners open tournament play with Pleasant Grove, another team that has pulled off more than one upset this season.
Fifth-ranked Lone Peak, region 4 champion, likely has the toughest first-round game of any No. 1 seed. The Knights, led by guard Caitlin Sears and forward Amanda Farrish, face Clearfield, a team that has struggled to beat top teams but is capable of more than its record indicates.
Layton, ranked third and region 1's second seed, and Brighton, region 3's third seed, play the last game of the night, and it promises to be one of the tournament's highlights. Layton is led by guard Sheila Adams, while the Bengals have athletic Tasha Dickey and prolific scorer Brenna Hahn.
"All of the regions were tough, so it's not just the top teams," said Bennett.
The 5A Tournament gets under way at 9:30 a.m. at UVSC on Tuesday. The 4A Tournament starts the same day at SLCC. The Deseret Morning News will have live scoring updates online for all 4A and 5A games at deseretnews.com.
5A GIRLS FIRST-ROUND UPPER BRACKET
Tuesday's first-round games at UVSC
American Fork (15-6) vs. Riverton (16-5), 9:30 a.m.
Jordan (9-11) vs. Davis (18-2), 11:10 a.m.
Weber (10-11) vs. Skyline (19-1), 12:50 p.m.
Kearns (10-10) vs. Timpanogos (10-10), 2:30 p.m.
Fremont (15-6) vs. Taylorsville (15-6), 4:10 p.m.
Clearfield (10-10) vs. Lone Peak (15-6), 5:50 p.m.
Pleasant Grove (9-12) vs. Bingham (19-2), 7:30 p.m.
Brighton (13-7) vs. Layton (15-6), 9:10 p.m.