The first full of week of basketball games are upon us, and so it is time for the Standard-Examiner’s region and team previews, found below, for the area girls basketball teams.
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Clearfield’s two best players from last season are playing at the college level, but the Falcons have a mix of youth and experience that should serve them well. Senior Kiersten Boyack, junior Makailey Cregger and freshman Miranda Mansfield are three names to keep an eye on. Clearfield went to the playoffs last year and nearly pulled off a first-round upset. Region 1 this year is a bit top-heavy, so there’s a lot of wiggle room for the other two or three playoff spots.
The youth movement is going to be the theme of Davis’ season. The Darts’ top six scorers in their season opener were three juniors (Annie Pitcher, Kelsey Leavitt and Hannah Loveland), two sophomores (Callie Tolman and Halle Lund) and a freshman (Kylee Maybry). The benefit of a lot of new faces can be the room to grow and improve. Keep an eye on Davis; the Darts were three points away from the playoffs last year.
A state title and region title defense are made that much easier when you have two starters returning — sophomore post Emma Calvert and junior forward Haylee Doxey — plus a point guard — sophomore Halle Duft — who basically played starter minutes last season. Now throw in another freshman phenom, 6-foot-1 guard/forward/everything Timea Gardiner, and ... how is anyone supposed to stop Fremont besides foul trouble? Calvert parlayed her stellar freshman season into offers from BYU and the University of Denver, with Denver offering her first. And Gardiner? Oh, she only has offers from ... Louisville, Kentucky and UCLA.
For the first time in 30 years, there’s a new head coach at Layton. That’s Rob Reisbeck, who, along with being Van Price’s main lieutenant, coached Syracuse to two state titles in 2010 and 2012. The Lancers have a good group of returners, led by Brenda Gallegos (9.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists), Meg Edwards (5.2 points, 5.1 rebounds) and Kamryn Black (3.8 points, 2.5 rebounds). This is easily a playoff-caliber team.
How do you follow up the best season in school history? That’s the challenge for Northridge this year. The Knights graduated their top four scorers from last season and guard Brooke Perkins transferred to Farmington. Michaela Harris (4 points) and Jennica Hess (3.9 points) head up Northridge’s returners, and the Knights also picked up Taylor Morris from Weber, who averaged 11.1 points per game for the Warriors last season.
One of the most under-the-radar players in the region last year was Paityn Williams, who led the Titans in scoring (10.1 points), rebounding (5) and steals (1.6) per game. Williams is back, and judging by Syracuse’s first game, a 31-28 win over Bonneville in which the Titans outscored the Lakers 14-7 in the fourth quarter, Syracuse is going to give some teams fits this year. Rachel Godfrey and Gracie Sorensen are a couple more players to keep an eye on.
Weber missed the playoffs last season after a really promising start to the year. The Warriors are a bit smaller this year, but they have a couple key returners: Paige Aardema (7.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals) and Sarah Pollard (3.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists). Another player to keep an eye on is Ashley Lund, who scored 11 points in last week’s opener after playing just one game in 2017-18.
Fremont has a challenging non-region schedule that includes what should be a tough Box Elder team, defending 5A champion East and 6A semifinalist Copper Hills...Braden Hamblin, a 2009 graduate of Syracuse High, is the Titans’ new girls basketball head coach, just the third girls hoops head coach in the school’s history...Layton’s new coach, Rob Reisbeck, had a 121-58 record as the Syracuse head coach from 2007-15...Northridge plays Dixie on Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City...This is the first year since 2011 that Weber isn’t playing against Bountiful...Davis plays Bonneville on Dec. 18, hoping to beat the Lakers for the first time since 2008...Clearfield faces Green Canyon on Dec. 29 for the first time in school history...Region games start Friday, Dec. 21.
File Bountiful in the category of “most likely to make the biggest improvement.” The Braves have a trio of seniors — Tashena Ashby (6.7 points, 4.4 rebounds), Waverly Bowman (4.8 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Samantha Salmon (3.6 points, 3.8 rebounds) — along with junior Dashani Purcell (2.4 points, 2.9 rebounds) coming back. They all got a ton of playing time last season and could easily be in contention for a region title.
Box Elder graduated five seniors, but one of the seniors this year is one of the best players in the area. Emily Isaacson led the Bees in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks last year. Senior guard Morgan Reeder and Isaacson form one of the better guard duos in the region. Sophomore post Annika Quayle and junior Jenna Mortensen will likely have bigger roles this year. Besting last season’s fourth-place finish seems reasonable for Box Elder.
After 30 years at Layton, Van Price heads to Farmington to usher in the first era of the Phoenix. They’ll be young, but they could also be really good if anything’s to be learned from their 18-point win over Northridge in the opener. Farmington has two sophomores — Valerie Kunzler and Abigail Ferrell — who can score, plus junior guard Brooke Perkins, who transferred from Northridge.
The Royals are young. Very young. There’s only two seniors: Autumn and Sage Vernon. In fact, it’s the first time head coach Carolyn DeHoff has had a team this young at Roy. It’s going to be a game-by-game process of figuring out who the best players in the program are. Bailey Hill, Saige Neilsen and Sophie Scholer are some names to keep an eye on.
Gone are Mercedes Staples and Melissa Sorenson, but Viewmont might not have much to worry about. The Vikings have six seniors who got decent playing time, led by Emma Carr, their leading returning scorer (5.1 points, 3.7 rebounds). They’re going to be pretty tall: Five of the seven juniors are 5-foot-10 or taller.
The Wildcats have to replace four players who accounted for 80.9 percent of last year’s scoring from a third-place team that nearly went to the state semifinals. But if there’s good news, it’s that virtually everyone else except for those four are back. Riley Aiono (5.1 points, 4 rebounds) and Allee McKenna (4.5 points, 4.1 rebounds) are the two top returners.
Before last season’s 2-18 mark, the last time Bountiful had a losing season was 2009-10, which the Braves followed by going 18-5 the next year......Farmington, coached by former 30-year Layton coach Van Price, visits Layton on Thursday in what should be an interesting matchup...The two seniors on Roy’s roster this season represent the lowest amount of seniors on a Roy team sine 2007, when the Royals had zero...This might sound hard to believe, but Viewmont and Box Elder’s two matchups last season were the first time the schools had played each other since at least before the 2001-02 season, as far back as online records show...Three of the four Woods Cross seniors who graduated last year are playing Division I college soccer...Region games begin Friday, Jan. 11.
Speed and athleticism are a couple of the likely strong points for the Lakers this year. Junior Jenna Czarnecki (9.9 points), senior Karly Conolly (7.4 points) and senior Ashley Croyle anchor the group of returners. Six-foot freshman Courtnie Porter is a new name to keep an eye on as Bonneville sets out to defend its region title. Speaking of Region 11, Tooele graduated a lot of its key players, but Stansbury returns virtually its entire team, as do Juan Diego and Park City.
Ogden’s new head coach, Wesley Padilla, who prior to Ogden was an assistant at Rock Springs High in Wyoming, likes defense and pressuring the ball, which is what the Tigers are going to hang their hat on this year. Makin Clarke, Brynn Soelberg, Grace Gooder and Kate Lowry head up an experienced team that’s looking to better last year’s four-win season. The Tigers haven’t had a winning season since 2006-07.
Senior center LaDeitra Hobson scored 11 points in the opener and she’ll be someone the Scots want to get the ball to often. This year’s non-region schedule is particularly brutal: The Scots go on the road for their next six games and won’t have a home game again until Dec. 18. Last season’s five wins were the most since the 2011-12 season, when Ben Lomond also won five games.
Seven of the Trojans’ top eight scorers were seniors last year, so this appears to be a rebuilding year, but Morgan usually finds a way to stay competitive. Jaycie House, Janel Blazzard and Ashlyn Morrell are the three leading scorers through the first two games. Here’s what doesn’t help the Trojans: every other team in the region with maybe the exception of South Summit returns most of its starters/scoring. Morgan has a new head coach, Sterling Mack.
LCA returns point guard Danyale Thomas from last year’s third-place team in the region. Thomas anchors a team with eight seniors, but with not a ton of varsity experience to go around. Region 16 looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle because last year’s co-champions, Duchesne and North Summit, have virtually their whole squads back.
The Jayhawks have a solid amount of returners this year including Virginia Tomon, Camryn Ingram and Emma Dulaney. Tomon led the area last year with 12.1 rebounds per game, which ranked fifth in the entire state. St. Joseph has a new head coach, Kelsey Henry, who’s just a couple of years removed from playing college basketball at Western Oregon after prepping at Morgan High.
Utah Military Academy, now in its third year playing basketball, has two juniors and a sophomore who stood out in the first game: Adison Felix, Kaylie Williams and Josie Jacobson. UMA has a new head coach, Dave Winkworth, who was the coach at Merit Academy in Springville last year. And speaking of Utah County, the Thunderbirds head to Lehi on Dec. 5 to match up with the new Utah Military Academy-Camp Williams.