OGDEN — Basketball season always brings a fresh feeling around high school campuses. The atmosphere is more contained, tighter; the action can be breathless at times.
Speaking of fresh, both the Ogden and Roy girls basketball teams had new looks to them in Tuesday’s season opener, which Ogden won 42-27.
The Tigers are breaking in a new head coach, Wesley Padilla, who’s entering his first season as a coach (assistant or head) at the high school level after moving to Ogden from Wyoming, where he spent a year coaching under University of Wyoming men’s basketball head coach Larry Shyatt before getting a master’s degree at Ball State.
Padilla wanted to see a lot of effort, especially on defense. Ogden brought it from the opening tip, cruising to a 12-4 lead at the end of the first quarter on the back of four steals caused by its pressure defense against Roy’s young guards. The press was a constant nuisance all night.
“We saw a lot of good things tonight — a lot of things we can still work on. As a team, we played together and that’s what I liked. Everyone has a role, everyone has their job,” he said.
Roy will have basically a new lineup this season after several seniors from last year’s Region 5 championship team, including current Utah Valley freshman and Standard-Examiner All-Area MVP Josie Williams, graduated.
The Royals’ starting lineup was brand new and the two seniors on the roster are working through injury, Royals head coach Carolyn DeHoff said. To have a team this young and inexperienced is a situation DeHoff has never been in.
“I really just wanted to see where we were at. Obviously you get a little mis-perceived when you’re going against your other teammates,” DeHoff said.
“I told them we’re going to be a team of fluidity where kids are moving up and down levels and my assistant coaches won’t always coach at the same level because we’re all just trying to figure out who needs to play where to get some confidence.”
Even when the Ogden press didn’t create turnovers, the Tigers tipped passes, trapped at the half-court line, forced timeouts and sewed a sense of insecurity on defense.
It was the trial by fire the Royals were going to get sooner or later this season with such a new lineup. But they started to relax and the 12-4 deficit didn’t grow, something DeHoff was impressed with.
Sophomore Saige Neilsen scored seven points and junior Sophie Scholer added six in the second quarter, which made up all 13 Roy points in that frame. It was 20-17 late in the half before a Brynn Soelberg jumper followed by two Grace Gooder free throws in the last 30 seconds made it 24-17 Tigers at halftime.
Two of Soelberg’s 11 points came when she got the ball on a fast break and Euro-stepped past a Roy defender for a layup in the second quarter. Ogden got out of the press in the third quarter and instead held Roy scoreless the first 5:08 of the second half.
“I think (the defense) worked really well. I thought the press was really nice,” Ogden senior Makin Clarke said.
But then came some of the things that Padilla says the Tigers need to work on. During that 5:08, they only pushed their 7-point lead to 11 and missed their first five free throws.
Clarke led all scorers with 13 points, nine of them coming in the fourth quarter after a frustrating game up to that point.
“We played them last year too and we lost pretty bad, so coming out and beating them is really boosting our confidence,” Clarke said.
Bailey Hill led Roy with eight points and Kate Lowry added six for Ogden.
It doesn’t get easier for either side. Roy hosts Weber and Ogden hosts Syracuse next Tuesday.