Readers can thank the great Colin Cowherd for inspiring what they’re about to read.
Often the only podcast I care to listen to is The Herd podcast with Cowherd as the host. A common “game” he plays is to describe each team in a league using three words or less. Ever the opinionated talking head, Cowherd’s brevity in this exercise is what makes it powerful.
As another basketball season ends in Sanpete County, with the Manti High boys basketball team closing out the season with a fourth-place finish in Ogden, here are three words to give to each hoops squad as the winter sports season comes to a close.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery?
MANTI – Ready, Aim, Fire
There is a lot of good to unpack about this Templar team. The Templars were clearly outmatched in their final game. However, for four glorious final minutes, Manti brought the house down in a way that made the 2019-20 season seem like yesterday.
Manti made incredible strides in a year with virtually zero starting experience returning, and the 2022-23 season will project to return the entire starting lineup and have four seniors and a junior comprising that lineup.
Manti will easily enter next season as a strong state title contender. The biggest obstacles in Manti’s way will be Layton Christian and Juan Diego. If Manti can get through them, then there is a very good chance the Templars will need more room in their trophy case by this time next year.
NORTH SANPETE – Do It Again
Don’t let the early playoff exit leave a bad taste. North Sanpete was straight-up awesome this season.
They deserved it, too. The Hawks waited a long time to get basketball back on track after the region gauntlet punished them for a few years. However, it’s not going to get any easier.
The Hawks were the most experienced team in Region 14 this season, to the point that even first-year head coach Bill Pollock attested during the season that he felt he was just along for the ride.
With most of the starters gone next season, Pollock’s work of building a competitive program will begin in earnest. He’ll need to make the most out of prospective senior Ty Allan, who will be by far the most experienced player on the team.
This season proved that North Sanpete had the players to play against anybody. Next season will be the time to show that North Sanpete is the program to beat.
GUNNISON VALLEY – Find Your Identity
In the wake of former coach Ben Hill’s retirement and several departing high-impact seniors, it wasn’t surprising to see Gunnison struggle, but the Bulldogs just looked lost a lot of times through the season, and more concerning in the latter half of the season.
Gunnison had easily the coldest offense in their region, and far too many of their possessions ended in ill-fated shot attempts far away from the basket. It bore the look of a team trying to figure themselves out.
Unlike some other coaches in the region, first-year head coach Tyson Moosman won’t have all year to draw up plays and brainstorm new strategies, since he’ll be head coaching track and field all spring and then will be back on the football field in the fall.
What the Bulldogs will need to figure out by next November is how to play with purpose on every possession. Winning breeds confidence, but it takes confidence to win in the first place. Gunnison has been one of the more solid basketball programs in the 2A class, so we can remain optimistic until further notice.
WASATCH ACADEMY – Sorry, My Bad?
Consider this my formal apology that Wasatch Academy’s first year in the NIBC did not get coverage in the Messenger virtually at all. The Tigers struggled this year more than they usually have, facing, by far, the toughest schedule they’ve ever had to deal with.
Wasatch ended their season at 14-11 overall, and they were last place in the NIBC standings at 1-7.