ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills girls basketball coach Chris Allred has a new mantra: Win the day.
The undefeated Lady Thunder have done a lot of winning of days in the past few years. But they haven’t won THE day. So Allred and his team of all-staters, college signees and athletic hoop stars, focus in on getting better, hoping that when this year’s big day comes, they”ll be ready.
DH, which has won all five of its games this season (average score: 62-30), has been to the state championship game — and lost — two years in a row. The Thunder are favored to get back to that game once again this year. But what will happen if or when they do?
“We have seven seniors on this team and they’ve all been a part of those heartbreaking losses in the championship game the last two years,” Allred said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that our No. 1 goal is to get back to that game and then win it this time. That is why we’ve been focused and motivated since the moment we got off the bus coming back from state last year.”
Unfulfilled potential. Heart-wrenching defeat. Underachieving favorites. All those adjectives were tossed out after the 22-3 Thunder lost in the final seconds against an 18-7 Dixie team that DH had beaten twice earlier in the season. None of that matters to Allred and his players. They just want to make sure the 2013-14 season doesn’t come with a set of dissatisfaction and ruefulness.
“There are no guarantees in life, but we’ve all been working very hard, individually and together,” Allred said. “We just want to make sure we don’t have any regrets at the end of the year. The common phrase is, ‘Win the day.’ That’s what we want to do is win each day.”
Desert Hills and the rest of Region 9, sneak a couple of region games before the Christmas break, starting tonight. Here’s a glance at each team heading into the 2013-2014 region season.
A team with a 6-foot-3 skilled center like Haley Bodnar would be rated high on that fact alone. But the Lady Thunder also feature speedy point guard Blair Bliss, 6-2 forward Kassidy Cox, high-scoring wings Karlee Myers and Emily Seifert and super sophomore Kenzie Done, who had four 3-pointers and 18 points vs. Centennial a week ago. The top-ranked Thunder will pretty much be favored in every game they play in region, so measuring up to expectations may be the biggest hurdle.
Coach: Chris Allred
Last year: 22-3 overall (second in state), 10-2 in region (tied for first)
Of note: Bodnar has signed to play at Purdue University next season … DH lost in the state championship game in 2012 and 2013, by a total of four points … Already beat American Fork and Pleasant Grove this year, will play road games at Timpview, Alta, and Timpanogas the next two weeks.
Pre-Christmas region games: Tonight vs. Cedar and next Tuesday at Dixie.
A trio of scorers has the Lady Warriors also thinking about playing deep into the postseason this winter. Seniors Grace Walton and Ashlee Nyborg, and sophomore Madison Mooring have SC off to a 4-0 start, including an eight-point win over 5A American Fork. All three will need to excel each night as SC lost dynamic star Amy Harris and post presence Megan Leavitt off of last year’s squad. So far, so good as Walton (14.8), Mooring (11.5) and Nyborg (8.3) are combining for 35 a game. Natalie Coulam and Cortney Sherman will also contribute.
Coach: Daniel Roden
Last year: 17-8 overall (fourth in state), 9-3 in region (third)
Of note: Harris is playing for the BYU Cougars this season … Roden is in his first year … The Warriors averaged 55 a game last year, but couldn’t top 40 in three of its four playoff games last year … SC plays second-ranked Juan Diego at home Thursday night.
Pre-Christmas region games: Tonight at Canyon View.
A key injury and a key move out have Dixie scrambling to make ends meet on-court. The hero of the 2013 3A championship game, Kelsey McCann, moved out of the area. Aubri Challis, another key member of last year’s championship team, suffered a serious knee injury and will be out indefinitely. That leaves Liz Empey as the lone senior with any significant playing experience for coach Ken Robinson. Still, Dixie has tradition and the banner of last year’s championship to carry forward, plus Robinson’s squelching 2-3-matchup zone. Already, Dixie has shown promise, holding Richfield to 19 points a couple of weeks ago. Empey will be good, and Taylor Whitson and Alexa Estridge both look like they will be major contributors.
Coach: Ken Robinson
Last year: 18-7 (state champions), 7-5 in region (fourth place)
Of note: Empey was one of the top players on the state-champion Dixie soccer team. She was the goalkeeper … Robinson has coached for nearly 30 years, but only two in girls sports … The top four scorers from last year are all gone. Challis was fourth and Empey was fifth.
Pre-Christmas region games: Tonight vs. Hurricane and next Tuesday vs. Desert Hills.
The Lady Tigers are kind of the forgotten child in Region 9 basketball: Always competitive, but never quite getting over the hump. Brooklyn Gubler leads the way and the senior is poised for a big year. Sela Filo could also be a huge factor, as well as Madison Hall. Shelly Kidd-Thomas is the coach and she will try and get the most out of a young team.
Coach: Shelly Kidd-Thomas
Last year: 8-13, 3-9 in region (tied for fifth)
Of note: Former Tiger Carly Stratton is playing basketball at BYU along with SC’s Amy Harris … Hurricane missed the playoffs last year, but made it to the consolation championship two years ago.
Pre-Christmas region games: Tonight at Dixie and next Tuesday at Pine View
The Lady Panthers have high hopes of climbing out of the basement, a place they’ve been for a while. Raelene Fiami is the top scorer early on, but PV needs help from senior Ashley Richards and junior Amber Archibald. The Panthers have started 0-2 and are struggling to score points, something a lot of other region teams should be able to do easily. So defense is a must for coach Ali Threet’s squad.
Coach: Ali Threet
Last year: 2-19, 0-12 in region (seventh place)
Of note: Threet is in her second year and hopes to instill a winning tradition at Pine View … The Panthers lost to Panguitch by 46 last week.
Pre-Christmas region games: Next Tuesday vs. Hurricane
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