Wayne, Piute teams on title hunt

Riding the momentum from its Region 20 tournament title, the Wayne High girls basketball team heads into the Utah High School Activities Association Class 1A state tournament this week with high energy and high hopes.

The Lady Badgers (14-5 this season) are the No. 4 seed at state after beating Piute 44-32 Feb. 18 to win the region tournament championship.

With its balance and experience, Wayne presents a tough matchup for anyone, as it showed in the region tournament.

“We had a great weekend and played as a team and the results showed,” said Badger head coach Kerry Stevens. “We had a great plan and the girls executed that plan, which resulted in a region championship.”

Emma Hallows scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the victory over Piute, while Aspen New added nine points and eight boards. AnDee VanDyke also scored nine and Hadlee Taylor dropped in eight points.

In earlier region tourney action, the Badgers beat Valley 45-31 behind 16 points from VanDyke and 10 points, 13 rebounds from Hallows. Taylor scored 10 in that contest and New grabbed 12 boards. In the opening-round win over Escalante, Savannah Williams scored 15, while Hallows added 14 and Hailey Durfey tallied 12.

The 1A girls state tournament tips March 1 at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield, where Wayne faces No. 13-seeded Whitehorse at 10 a.m. Wednesday in a second-round contest. Rich, Wendover, and Valley are the top three seeds in the field.

“As for this week, we are using the same plan and preparing for any scenario that could come our way,” Stevens said. “Our team is playing for each other and they only want what’s best for the team. As a coaching staff we couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of girls to represent the community. We are hoping to bring the state title back to Wayne High.”

Piute girls

The Piute girls basketball team knocked off Water Canyon and Panguitch at the Region 20 tournament before falling to Wayne in the tournament finale. The Thunderbirds enter the state tourney as the No. 6 seed, and will face Escalante Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at the SVC.

1A boys basketball

The Piute High boys basketball team finished the season 18-5 and enters the state playoffs as the No. 3 seed.

The T-Birds lost to Panguitch 56-38 in the Region 20 tournament title game as Brooks Dalton scored 15 points. Piute knocked off Bryce Valley 62-46 in the semifinal round, paced by Dalton’s 20 points, along with 15 from Tavin Jessen and Kole Westwood’s 14 points.

Dalton scored 19 in the tournament-opening 77-34 win over Water Canyon. Jaxon Westwood scored 16, Kel Blood added 14, and Will Myers added 10.

I was very pleased with our play at the region tournament,” said Piute coach Eric Jessen. “The region tournament, in my opinion, is a very intense atmosphere that prepares our kids for the state tournament. In the championship game, Panguitch jumped out to an early 10-0 lead but I was really pleased how our kids responded. If we correct a few little mistakes, I like our chances to advance and have another chance against Panguitch.”

The 1A boys tournament begins March 1 at Richfield High School before moving to the SVC Thursday, as consolation bracket games continue in the RHS gym. Piute faces 14th-seeded Water Canyon at 7 p.m. Wednesday to open the state tournament.

“Panguitch is No. 1 and Manila No. 2,” Jessen said. “We will start the tournament playing Water Canyon again. If all goes well we hope to keep advancing. We feel the chances are very good to keep moving forward as long as we continue playing team ball and all continues as the season has already.”

Wayne boys

The Wayne High boys basketball team (14-7) will be the No. 8 seed at the state tournament. The Badgers beat Valley 54-38 in the consolation bracket final at the region championships as Ryker Peterson scored 23 points and Hunter Mitchell tallied 14 with 10 rebounds.

Wayne knocked off Escalante in the consolation semifinals after losing in the region opener, 49-42, to Milford.

“We had a tough road game in Milford for our first game of region,” said Wayne coach Jason Jackson. “There was a three-way tie for third, and the coin toss to decide (seeding) and unfortunately, we landed in fifth, so we had to travel to Milford. It’s a tough place to play and we came up a little short.”

The Badgers open state tournament play against No. 9 Rich at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at RHS.

“We were hoping for a little higher seed but we had a few games that didn’t fall our way during the season,” Jackson said. But, we are happy to be qualified without a playoff game and look forward to giving it our best this tournament.”