Here are the previews for all six high school teams:
After falling two games short of the finals game during the 2022 state girls basketball championship, the Grantsville Cowboys girls team are heading into this season with a renewed sense of determination.
Head coach Megan Vera said her team doesn’t feel entitled to another long run in the playoffs, as they are approaching the season
“We talked about the team goal is to win the state title, but they’re really good about knowing that it takes one day at a time,” Vera said.
With last year’s roster mostly intact, aside from the loss of two role players, Vera thinks the team won’t miss a beat in playing as a solid group. One of the biggest strengths she sees coming from the girls is the leadership that comes from being an experienced team.
“I think not having seniors last year really helped (prepare for) this year because our juniors had to learn to lead,” she said. “They have so much confidence and I think leadership is going to help us a ton.”
Throughout the season, the girls will follow the team mission statement of “Play Proud.” The team chose this to encourage one another to feel satisfied by their performance after each game and take pride in the effort and execution that was put into each game.
“It’s not always about the score, but knowing that we gave it our all,” Vera said. “If we do that, then we can say we played proud.
“We have an amazing group of girls that are already doing a great job and I’m excited to see what they’ll do this year.”
Two games into the season, the Cowboys hold a 2-0 record with their next two games taking place Nov. 29 against Draper APA and Dec. 1 against Hunter High School.
Similar to their girls counterparts, the Cowboys boys basketball team fell just short of taking home a state title during last year’s tournament. Despite not bringing home the hardware, head coach Nate Austin says last year has been in the team’s rearview.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t heading into the season with a chip on their shoulders.
“They feel like this is the year to go out and prove who we can be,” Austin said. “We don’t really talk about last year’s loss, but having six seniors on the team creates a sense of urgency.”
Austin says the returning players, who are seniors now, are at the top of their game, bringing an energy to each practice.
“I think this year just means a little bit more to them,” he said. “It’s their last go ‘round.”
The team’s focus this year has shifted a little, as the two departing seniors were bigger and had stronger playing styles to their game. Austin isn’t concerned about whether their absence will impact the team’s play, but instead acknowledges the tweaks he will have to make to the system.
“We’re a little bit thinner and smaller and have to be a little more creative.Every year there’s adjustments, so this year is no different.”
Some of those adjustments Austin referred to include picking up the team’s tempo and speed up the team’s ball movement as well.
One of the benefits of Grantsville’s coaching style under Austin and the rest of his coaching staff, is the elasticity of the team’s system. As opposed to working the players around his system, Austin says he has a foundation of playing styles, but it is not concrete if things need to change.
“There’s certain principles, but our offensive and defensive strategies are 100% based upon our personnel every year,” he said.
To that end, the players also have a chance to give input into what they think might help the team succeed. Austin sees this as an opportunity to give them more experience and foster a two-way relationship between athletes and coaches.
“We like to empower our kids,” Austin said.
The boys team currently sits at a 1-0 record, with their next game taking place on the road De. 2 against Carbon High School. The Cowboys next home game is Dec. 9 when they host North Sanpete.
An early second round exit during the 2021-22 boys state high school basketball tournament concluded the Stansbury Stallions boys basketball team’s relatively successful season.
Finishing with a 16-8 record overall, the Stallions earned a 9-3 record in their region which was kicked off by a seven-game winning streak.
In the playoffs, Stansbury made an early exit in the second round after falling to Salem Hills.
The Stallions started the 2022-23 campaign with an early loss to Judge Memorial High School, losing by the score of 39-52. Their next game takes place on Nov. 30 at Alta, followed by a road game against Herriman on Dec. 2 in West Herriman.
During the 2021-22 season, the Stansbury Stallions girls basketball team finished with an 11-13 record.
First year head coach Alex Huxford says this year’s team will look differently, production-wise, as the Stallions lost their three leading scorers from last year.
This year’s team will look much different than last, as Stansbury saw eight seniors depart from the roster. With the younger roster, coach Joe White will
“We will rely heavily on our three seniors, with a nice combination of juniors and sophomores,” Huxford said.
In spite of the mediocre performance last season, Huxford embraces his new role as coach and knows his team has what it takes to be competitive.
“Our expectations are that we compete at a high level every time we take the floor,” he said. “Our core values include excelling as students, leadership, sportsmanship and perfect effort and practice habits.
After spending 16 years prior coaching high school basketball and football, Huxford welcomes the opportunity to coach the girls team.
“This new adventure has been a liberating breath of fresh air,” he said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to coach such great kids and I appreciate their hard work and support.”
The Stallions girls team kicked off its season on Nov. 29 in their game against Mountain View. Their next game is Dec. 1 at Green Canyon High School in Logan.
Tooele Buffaloes head coach Julie Bonnor is taking an optimistic approach to the 2022-23 season, whereas many could take last year’s finish at face value.
Last season, the Buffaloes girls basketball team went winless for the entirety of the 2021-22 season. Despite the 0-20 record, Bonnor praised her team for their effort and “never say die” mentality.
“The results aren’t a reflection of just how good this team is and last season has been heavy on their shoulders all summer,” she said. “These girls are hungry, humble and strong.”
With a young roster under her direction, Bonner will make several adjustments as the season moves along. Since spots on the roster aren’t guaranteed, she expects the players to jockey for positions and grow together in the process.
“I’ve been impressed with the level of competition they bring to each practice, but ultimately how they are building each other up,” Bonner said.
Using a buffalo as a metaphor for the players’ approach to each challenge, Bonner noted that buffaloes aren’t afraid to face storms and will instead charge directly at it. By taking things one day at a time, and readying themselves to face challenges directly, Bonner believes her players will be prepared to face any opponent.
“We adopted the mantra “Chase the Storm” and with this adversity we are committed to face it head on,” Bonner said. “My expectations for this team are to have them believe in themselves.”
The Buffaloes girls basketball team kicks their season with a Nov. 29 matchup against Ogden High School and a home game next week against Weber High School on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
Much like the girls’ season, the Buffaloes boys basketball team struggled through most of the 2021-22 season. Finishing with a 2-22 overall record, the highlight of the season was a two-game winning streak at the end of last December.
But just like the Buffaloes’ girls coach, boys basketball coach Jed Thomas asserted that his team’s record did not tell the whole story.
“We did not perform very well last season in terms of wins and losses, but we did play better than our record indicates,” Thomas said. “We did have a younger team and I saw a lot of growth and development that gets me excited for this season.”
Departing from last year’s roster were two seniors, with four regular starters returning to the lineup this season. With the team’s core largely intact Thomas expects his team to play at a high level each game. And with preseason games scheduled against quality teams,
“We always like to schedule a little tougher preseason each year and this year is no different,” Thomas said. “We play a lot of good teams this year and hope that gives us a competitive advantage coming into region play.”
Ultimately, Thomas looks forward to seeing the continued growth of his players and seeing how the team can improve from game to game.
“I am looking forward to this season,” Thomas said. “Our players put in a lot of work and effort to improve this offseason — we look forward to showcasing that to our community and fans.”
The Buffaloes have started their season at 0-2 early, but will have three-straight home games against Springville, Kearns and Grantsville. The game against the Cowboys takes place Dec. 7 and will start at 7 p.m.