Just like the March Madness of the NCAA college basketball tournament, the high school state tournament this year was full of upsets and surprising teams that were peaking at the right moment and coming together to put on magical runs.

The team that sticks out to me this year was the Mountain View Bruins. They exceeded a lot of expectations, especially mine.

The grit and team play they showed this year was awesome to witness. They exhibited everything I talked about in my first “Coach’s Corner” article about peaking at the right time.

From the first time I saw them to the last they have improved in every aspect aspect of the game.

They don’t have the skill and talent level that other teams have but head coach Gentry Dickerson got them playing great basketball and she got every ounce out of them.

That’s what you should look for in a coach. Is the coach focusing on the present with an eye toward the future?

The same goes for Springville and head coach Holli Averett. She had her team playing their best and believing in each other.

It’s fun to see teams come together and figure it out. I heard all the right things from them during and after the games.

These two teams are the prime examples of coaches who get it, who will do whatever it takes to win now but are also focused on getting better and playing the right way with team ball and defense. Offense wins games but defense wins championships.

The Bruins and Red Devils are on their way. They have kids who played big roles on their teams this year that gained tremendous experience and I hope they take it and expand on it.

I’m excited for the future of girls basketball here in Utah Valley.

We have some great young talent coming back and I look for big things from them. I hope they put in the work so that they will bring the championship back to Utah Valley next year.

Here are my early predictions for 2020-21:

Lehi: The Pioneer bring back their starting five this year after going undefeated and finishing in the Final Four.

Springville: The Red Devils return four out of their five top scorers. After making it to the championship game they gained some great experience.

Mountain View: The Bruins return four out of their top six scorers from a team that shocked a lot of people. They won’t have that luxury next year but with that experience it should help them compete next winter.

Orem: The Tigers return their three top players. They had a great year with a big improvement from last year to this year. Head coach Nick Taylor has done a great job in changing that culture.

Lone Peak: The Knights return two freshmen who played a lot of minutes and played really well. They also have Maile Hunt coming back to solidify the interior.

Skyridge: The Falcons return two starters and one of the better players in the valley in Ally Blackham.

Westlake: The Thunder return six players who saw significant time and their top three scorers.

Kawika Akina was the head girls basketball coach at Timpview and Timpanogos high schools, where he won two state championships (one at each school). He played at Dixie College and Northern Arizona University, where he also was an assistant coach. He has coached club basketball for the past four years.

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