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The Sanpete Messenger

Boys teams field experienced players this year

The Manti High School Templars varsity basketball team practices for the season ahead of them.

 

Boys teams field experienced

players this year

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

Nov. 23, 2017

 

It’s a new basketball season, and new seasons breed new hope. Boy’s basketball teams around the county are hitting the hardwoods, sweating in the gym and working their drills to get ready for the 2017-2018 boys basketball season in Utah 3A and 2A.

Area boys basketball teams experienced some success last year with most of the teams finishing at or near .500, although no team advanced beyond the first round of the state playoffs. However, struggles last year turned into deep and experienced teams this year, according to area coaches. All of the county high school coaches predict that their squads are going to be improved this year, building off of last year’s struggles, and they all think that they will have a chance to compete for a region championship this time around. If that’s so, there’s going to be a lot of exciting basketball in Sanpete County this year.

Gunnison Valley

Coach Ben Hill is one of the coaches that sees big things for his squad this year. He says, “This team’s going to do really well. This group has played together a long time, and they play good team basketball.”  Last year’s squad finished 10-10 overall, and 3-7 in their region. They finished the season well with some “good wins,” but did not qualify for the playoffs.

Four seniors graduated from last year’s squad – Cole Stewart, Gage Mogle, Drew Hill and Tyler Francis – and took with them the “bulk of the offense.”  However, Coach Hill has 7 returning seniors, including 2 returning starters, which will make for an experienced and deep squad. The key seniors will be Wyatt Young, Isiah O’Neal, Bowen Jensen, Parker Stewart and Parkes Bartholomew.

The Bulldogs first game will be on Nov. 21 at Altamont High, at 6:00 pm.

Manti

Coach Devin Shakespear described last year as a “growing year” for his group, even though they finished with a 10-14 record overall, and 4-6 in the region. They played eventual champ Waterford in the first round of the playoffs, and lost a close game 55-50.

Only two seniors started on that squad, and that leaves Coach Shakespear with a “big senior class” this year. Dylan Wathon, Matt Neilson, Brett Thompson and Brody Barson figure to earn significant minutes on this year’s team.

Coach Shakespear says that his team “will be very competitive” in what he calls a very good region.“There will be no bad teams this year.”  He says that his team’s goal is to be in the top 2 or 3 in the region, and make some noise in the playoffs.

The Templars first game this year will be on Nov. 21 at Millard High School, at 7:00 pm.

North Sanpete

Hawks boys basketball coach Chris Hoopes thinks that his team “can definitely be in the hunt” for a region championship this year. Last year’s squad, 6-16 overall, 4-4 region, had some difficulty in the early schedule, but got better later in the year. “We struggled at first, but found some things that worked for us late in the season, and finished by playing for the region championship.”

The Hawks are another team that returns a lot of its members for another go-round. They lost their starting center and guard, Kaleb Bailey and Justice Green, as well as Tanner Morley, a “glue-guy” that logged a lot of minutes. But the majority of their scoring and rebounding returns. Sean Taylor was last year’s starting point guard, Spencer Steadman was the leading scorer, and Brock Bailey was the leading rebounder. Jaylen Sorensen will also be a key contributor to the squad.

Coach Hoopes said that his team is “going to get better every game, and take one game at a time.”  At the end of the year, their goal is a region championship and a berth in the state playoffs.

Their first game is On Nov. 21 against North Sevier at 7:00 pm.