ST. GEORGE — Region 9 boys basketball action has just begun around St. George and Dixie is the team to beat, according to a media and coaches poll.

At the yearly Region 9 media day at Nets on Fire Tuesday morning, the Flyers were selected as the preseason favorite to win the region while Snow Canyon senior and Utah Tech University recruit Owen Mackay was named preseason MVP.

Region 9 is wide open this year with four new head coaches leading equally competitive squads.

But there is no question the Flyers, after back-to-back finishes as runner-up in the 4A state tournament, have a target on their backs as they seek a third consecutive berth in the 4A state title game.

“I think the biggest thing with these guys is they are hungry,” Dixie coach Tyler Roberts, who collected his 100th coaching victory at Dixie last year in the state tournament, told St. George News.

“They’re definitely motivated and we put together a schedule to be able to prepare us for that situation (getting to the state title game),” Roberts added. “And obviously with the experience they have, you know, it’s going to be exciting to see what happens.”

St. George News spoke with a player from each team at media day to get a preview of Region 9 hoops.

The full stream of the media day interviews with players and coaches, conducted by The Fan Sports Network, is available here.

Dixie Flyers

(L-R): Logan Weidauer, Breckon Robinson, Kyle Lemke, Jordan Roberts and coach Tyler Roberts represent Dixie at the Region 9 boys basketball media day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The Flyers return most of the team from last year that finished 22-5 overall, including a 10-2 mark that gave them a share of the region crown with Snow Canyon.

Dixie lost 52-44 to state champion Sky View in the title game. A year before that, Dixie lost to Snow Canyon in the title game.

Senior Kyle Lemke is the Flyers’ go-to under the basket and he hopes to have an MVP-type season.

“There’s going to be some really good teams in region this year,” Lemke said, noting Crimson Cliffs and Pine View as looking strong so far. “They’re all just really good teams. I think every game will be a good game and every team will bring their best game against us.”

Senior (and coach’s son) Jordan Roberts will run the point again this year for the explosive Flyers, who also expect strong seasons from seniors Breckon Robinson, Damon Meyers and Logan Weidauer.

“It’s crazy that it’s my senior year,” Lemke said. “It’s just exciting to play my last year with them and kind of sad, but kind of exciting too because it will be the best year.”

Dixie opens the season at home Thursday against Cyprus at 7 p.m. in the Hangar.

Snow Canyon Warriors

(L-R): Drey Smith, Trey Nelson, Owen Mackay and coach Ryan Ball represent Snow Canyon at the Region 9 boys basketball media day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Preseason MVP Owen Mackay leads a Warriors squad that is directed by new head coach Ryan Ball.

“I like what coach Ball brings to the table,” Mackay said. “He brings energy and he’s an incredible coach and he knows the game of basketball really well.”

Snow Canyon battled to a 10-2 region record last year, good for a share of the crown with Dixie. The Warriors were 18-8 overall and lost to Crimson Cliffs in the 4A quarterfinals.

Ryder Holt, Trey Kelsch and Drey Smith return for Snow Canyon and big years are hoped for from Owen Iloa and sophomore Reggie Mackay, Owen Mackay’s younger brother.

“I’ve been playing the past two years with my cousin (Will Warner) and that’s been super fun,” Owen Mackay said. “And now my little brother, we grew up playing basketball together in the backyard and I’m just super excited to actually get to play with him and really build my relationship with him.”

Snow Canyon opens the season at home Friday against Cyprus at 7 p.m. in the Jungle.

Hurricane Tigers

(L-R): RJ Hurst, Caleb Jackman, Houston Homer, Quinn Gubler and coach Adam Stout represent Hurricane at the Region 9 boys basketball media day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

New head coach Adam Stout leads a Tigers team that hopes to improve upon last year’s 2-19 record. Hurricane did not win a region game in last year’s campaign.

A young core of Tigers will get help from their new coach and from some experienced players on the roster. Point guard Quinn Gubler said he’s seen positive change already behind coach Stout.

“I feel like we still play really hard. I feel like we’re playing more as a team, playing better together than we were last year,” Gubler said. “Adam has been coaching my grade and some of the other grades for a while, and I feel like that will help us a lot.”

RJ Hurst, Cayleb Jackman and Houston Homer all expect to have an impact on Hurricane’s roster as well.

Hurricane (2-1) is already off to a hot start, winning two of its first three games and equaling its win total from all of last year.

The Tigers go north this weekend to face three tough Region 11 teams on the road, starting Thursday at 7 p.m. at Mountain Crest.

Desert Hills Thunder

(L to R): Ben Chase, Eli Allred, Jackson Holman, Chase Curtis and coach Tregg Holbrook represent Desert Hills at the Region 9 boys basketball media day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The Thunder expects to play an up-tempo, 3-point shooting style of basketball that should produce a lot of points.

Seniors Eli Allred and Jackson Holman return to lead the Thunder, who like last year will look to offset a size disadvantage with hot shooting and multiple scoring threats.

“Unless it’s a low shot clock situation, our offense is really trying to get downhill, get a kick-out or a layup,” Allred said. “Our saying is ‘Keys and 3’s.’”

The Thunder lost to Dixie 72-63 in the 4A quarterfinals last year after compiling a 14-10 overall record, including a 6-6 mark in region play.

Hunter Clark, Chase Curtis and Ben Chase look for strong seasons at Desert Hills.

“We’re loaded with shooters,” Allred said. “We’re longer this year than we were last year. I think we’re under the radar, for sure.”

Desert Hills (1-0) defeated Canyon View 66-64 in a thrilling season-opener and next plays on the road at Park City Friday at 7 p.m.

Cedar Reds

(L to R): Parker Englebright, JT Jeter, Easton Albrecht, Landon Kreitzer and coach Tyler Monks represent Cedar at the Region 9 boys basketball media day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Second-year head coach Tyler Monks leads a team that no one in the region wants to go to sleep on.

Enjoying a significant homecourt advantage but also a sneaky threat on the road, the Reds will bring a battle to every Region 9 game.

“I do think this is going to be a special year,” senior Landon Kreitzer said. “I believe we have a lot of talent coming this year and I have a feeling that we’re going to do some special things this year and shock some people.”

Cedar was 8-14 overall last year, playing to a 3-9 record in region play.

Kreitzer was a scoring machine for the Reds, and his return is bolstered by Easton Albrecht, Parker Englebright and talented newcomer JT Jeter.

“We always go in with the mindset that we can beat anybody,” Kreitzer said. “We always believe that, we think that, we preach that on the team. And everybody comes in with the mindset that we’re just going to win every game.”

Cedar (0-2) next plays Friday at crosstown rival Canyon View at 7 p.m.

Pine View Panthers

(L to R): Adam Moore, Trevor Condie, Griffen Shepherd, Nash Schroeder and coach Patrick Amico represent Pine View at the Region 9 boys basketball media day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

New head coach Patrick Amico inherits a Panthers squad that features perhaps the region’s best returning tandem of players in seniors Nash Schroeder and Griffen Shepherd.

“I think every great team always has to have two or three really good guys,” Schroeder said. “I think me and Griff and some of the other guys are going to be able to make us that great team. Me and Griff have chemistry that we’ve had since eighth grade together. I’m excited to see how this year goes with them.”

Pine View went 6-16 overall last year with a 5-7 mark in region play.

Adam Moore and Trevor Condie are two Panthers expected to have breakout seasons.

“I think anybody can beat anybody in this region on a given night,” Schroeder said. “I think that we can maybe be not an under-the-radar team, but one of the top teams with Dixie.”

Pine View opened the season Tuesday night at Canyon View then plays its home opener Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against Richfield in the Pit.

Crimson Cliffs

(L to R): Sean Felts, Trevor Taylor, Scoop Johnson and coach Scott Murdock represent Crimson Cliffs at the Region 9 boys basketball media day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The Mustangs seniors are led by their third coach in as many years after Scott Murdock assumed the head of the Crimson bench a month or so after last season ended.

Crimson finished 16-8 overall last year with an 8-4 mark in region contests. The Mustangs upset Snow Canyon in the 4A state tournament before losing to state champion Sky View in the semifinals.

“I think we’ve improved a lot since last year,” said 6-foot-11 senior center Sean Felts. “When we got our flow going I think we can beat anyone.”

Senior guard Luke “Scoop” Johnson returns to lead the Mustangs along with Felts. They will be backed up by Trevor Taylor, Steele Barben and sophomore McKay Lindquist.

Felts was part of the Crimson Cliffs golf team that dominated its way to the state title this year on the links. Barben quarterbacked the state champion Mustangs football team. And the Mustangs are back-to-back 4A state baseball champs.

Crimson’s culture of winning, in just its fifth year as a high school, permeates on down to the basketball team.

“I think it’s a positive thing,” Felts said. “All the other sports have done it at our school, and so it’s encouraging for us. We’ve got a great student section, a lot of support from the families and all the parents. I think it’s a motivator for us that we should go get one for ourselves.”

The Mustangs (o-1) lost their season-opener to powerful Layton Christian Academy on Monday night and next plays Mountain View at home on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Washington Fields.

Region 9 media and coach’s poll, preseason team finish:

Dixie Flyers
Snow Canyon
Crimson Cliffs
Pine View
Desert Hills

Region 9 media and coaches’ poll, preseason individuals:

MVP: Owen Mackay, Snow Canyon

All Region 9 1st Team: Kyle Lemke and Jordan Roberts (Dixie), Nash Schroeder and Griffen Shepherd (Pine View), Sean Felts (Crimson Cliffs)

All Region 9 Honorable Mention: Landon Kreitzer and JT Jeter (Cedar), Eli Allred and Ben Chase (Desert Hills), Scoop Johnson (Crimson Cliffs), Logan Weidauer and Breckon Robinson (Dixie), Owen Iloa and Trey Kelsch (Snow Canyon), Caleb Jackman and RJ Hurst (Hurricane)

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