Basketball season tips off
Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM
● By Greg James
The Jaguars combined solid defense with constant ball movement into a top ranked basketball program. (dsandersonpics.com)
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The high school basketball season is upon us. The local teams have picked their lineups. The excitement of the new season has settled upon the teams and fans.
The 2016–17 Grizzlies boys basketball team found itself on the path toward a championship game. Stockton Shorts led the team in scoring averaging 23.6 points per game, but with him graduated and now playing at Snow College, head coach Andrew Blanchard needs to find someone to help fill the scoring void.
Bingham derailed the Grizzlies’ championship hopes by defeating Copper Hills two out of three times last year. The Grizzlies are scheduled to host them Friday, Jan. 5 in the teams’ only scheduled meeting of the season. The boys will also play in the Utah Elite tournament Dec. 7–9. Another important game on the schedule is West Jordan, Tuesday, Jan. 30.
The Copper Hills’ boys’ run into the state tournament last season ended in a semifinals loss to Lone Peak. Success this year will hinge upon its returning players. At 6-foot-5 junior Trevon Allfrey averaged 9.3 points per game last year and has plenty of varsity experience to help the Grizzlies maintain their dominance.
The girls team finished in first place in Region 3. The Lady Grizzlies finished with a 21-4 overall record. They also lost in the semifinals to American Fork, 48-45. It was their second straight trip to the semifinals where they lost both times by a total of five points.
Junior Breaunna Gillen returns to the team as the second-leading scorer. She averaged 9.8 points per game last season. Another player to watch this season will be senior Kiarra Gasu. She averaged 5.9 points per game last year and could be a key in maintaining the balanced attack Copper Hills is known for.
Key games on the girls team’s schedule include a showdown with cross-town rival Bingham Friday, Dec. 8. The Grizzlies are also scheduled to play in the Corner Canyon Winter Classic Dec. 14-16. The team will host West Jordan Thursday, Jan. 11.
The Jaguar boys team made its second straight state tournament appearance last season. Wins in its final two region games helped it finish in fourth place in Region 3 with a 6-6 record. The momentum carried the Jaguars to a first-round 69-63 victory over Skyview, but they were eliminated with a 54-39 loss to Pleasant Grove two days later.
A key player for the Jaguars’ return to the state tournament could be 6-foot-5-inch senior Darrian Nebeker. He led the team in scoring last season, averaging 12.0 points per game to go along with6.5 rebounds per contest. As an undersized big man, he has been forced to guard bigger and stronger opposing players.
The boys are scheduled to participate in the Utah Autism Holiday Classic Dec. 27–30 at Olympus High School. Key region contests include their home games against Herriman Friday, Jan. 19 and Riverton Friday, Jan. 26. They will host Copper Hills in their next-to-last game of the year Friday, Feb. 16.
The Lady Jaguars have a new head coach this season. Former assistant coach Lei Lolohea takes over after Carlson Boudreaux stepped down after last season. She takes over a team that won only four games last season.
They return their top three scorers from last season: seniors Heaven Lewis, Kennedi Hardy and Kendra Ludwig. Each could be a key contributor in the Jaguars’ improvement.
The Jaguars are scheduled to host Hunter in their first home game Thursday, Nov. 30. As the team prepares for its region games, it will also host Cyprus Dec. 21.