Facebook Twitter

1A boys basketball tournament: Panguitch, Valley rely on defense in preparing for unpredictability of post-season play

SHARE 1A boys basketball tournament: Panguitch, Valley rely on defense in preparing for unpredictability of post-season play

The pressure of the playoffs can cause even a good team to struggle.

Complicating matters for the top 1A teams is that they won’t know who their opponents are until after Tuesday afternoon’s play-in games.

Preparation, then, becomes more about refining one’s own game, rather than trying to disrupt an opponent’s offense.

For Valley head coach Owen Hoyt, that means preparing with a philosophy his father relied on for more than 30 years of coaching — focus on defense.

“Offense is fickle,” Hoyt said. “It comes and it goes. Defense can’t let you down. … And then we talk about the grind. It’s going to be a four-day grind.”

And, well, the team that wins is a team that commits to defense while embracing the grind.

It doesn’t hurt, however, to also have the talent to compete for the championship, and this year there may be more teams than in recent memory with rosters capable of vying for the 1A title.

“I think it is a deeper field than in the past,” said Panguitch head coach Clint Barney.

The top-ranked Bobcats have only lost one game this season — a Feb. 7 loss to Parowan. Barney said the team has a nice balance of skill, veteran leadership and commitment to defense. The Bobcats have the best statistical defense in the classification.

“We’ve been in some tight ball games, and we know we might be considered favorites,” Barney said, “but it’s a new season. Everybody in the tournament is going to feel like they’ve got just as good a chance to win it as we do. And they do.” The Bobcats are led by Jace Eyre and Trey Barney, as well as Acey Orton, and they will face the winner of the Manila/Piute play-in game.

Both Hoyt and Barney said Piute might be one of the scariest teams in the tournament because it was a preseason favorite before injuries decimated the roster.

He agrees with Hoyt that the right approach is to focus on defense, especially in a situation like the tournament.

“We’ve played defense, and that’s what we will try to continue to do well,” he said. “These first round games, kids can have jitters. … Offense seems to lag a bit behind.” Second-ranked Valley has played the Bobcats three times this season and they have yet to figure out a way to beat them. Hoyt isn’t worried because both teams have tough opening-round draws.

The Buffalo will face the winner of the ICS/Tabiona play-in game. Valley is led by Cobe Reck and Garrett Spencer and Ike Stout.

Third-ranked Duchesne will take on the winner of Mount Vernon vs. fourth-ranked Bryce Valley. The Eagles are led by Chad Lewis and Jarett Spencer, while the Mustangs are led by Austyn Brinkherhoff, Tate Leech and Easton Syrett.

Fifth-ranked Piute has the unlucky draw of a play-in game against Manila, which if they win, pits them against Panguitch.

“Piute is a scary team,” Barney said. “They’ve fought through more injuries than any team in the state. … On paper, they’re extremely dangerous.” The question is can the T-birds find the chemistry to make a post-season run. Piute is led by Logan Dalton, Beau Sylvester and Ryan Westwood.

Region 19 champion Monticello opens against Wayne/Wendover. The Buckaroos, who went undefeated in region play, are led by Carson Duncan, Jake Freestone and Talon Black.

Tintic and St. Joseph tied for the region title with Tintic earning the top seed. The Miners, who open the tournament against Telos or Green River, are led by Jesse Wall, David Whitney and Braxten Petersen.

St. Joseph will open the tournament against Diamond Ranch or Pinnacle, and the Jayhawks are led by Matt Morton and Masen White.

Rich, Region 17’s second seed, will open the tournament against Parowan, the only team to beat Panguitch this season. The Rebels are led by Nick Jarman and Payson Willis. The Rams are led by Jarrin Church, Ethan Guymon and Nathan Goodman.