ST. GEORGE – Believe it or not, basketball is back. The high school girls basketball season tipped off last night with more than half of the Region 9 teams in action.
Snow Canyon, Dixie, Canyon View and Pine View each started their seasons while Desert Hills, Cedar and Hurricane get things going after the Thanksgiving break. The Warriors outlasted 2A powerhouse Beaver 36-30 in what coach Wade Jensen described as a sloppy game.
“It was definitely an early season game,” Jensen said. “A lot of our girls haven’t had a chance to get their legs under them and get their shots back yet, but they played hard and we found a way to win.”
Canyon View also found its way into the win column with a 36-35 win over Richfield and Dixie opened the new campaign with a 55-47 victory over Kanab. Pine View was the lone Region 9 team to fall short on the night, dropping its season opener 45-28 to Carbon.
It was good start for a region that looks to continue its recent 3A dominance. The 2012-2013 season will see a majority of Region 9 teams return key players, and in some cases, the entire nucleus of the team. One of those teams is Desert Hills, which returns four starters and leading scorers Blair Bliss and Haley Bodnar to lead the way. But coach Chris Allred doesn’t expect the other region teams to concede anything because of a few returning players.
“It’s going to be a real challenge to get through region and take one of those top spots,” Allred said. “Our entire region is really tough. It’s one of those years where you just hope to survive region and make it to the playoffs.”
Snow Canyon finds itself in a similar situation and returns players like BYU-bound guard Amy Harris and Grace Walton to make a push to repeat as 3A state champions. The Warriors also know the season won’t be easy and can’t expect other region teams to simply roll over because they are the defending champs.
“Last year is over,” Jensen said. “We’re starting over. Nothing is going to be given to us. We’ve got to go out and earn everything we get.”
The Warriors will have to do it without the help of senior leader Autumn Shipp, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. It was a major blow to a team that will already have to deal with the pressure of having the proverbial defending-champion target on their backs.
“A lot of our girls have kind of been shell shocked and not really known what to expect,” Jensen said. “(Autumn) has been such a part of our team. The roles have to change a little bit. Other girls have to step up and are given opportunities and have to fill the slack where she left out.”
Perhaps the only positive the Warriors can take from the situation is that the injury occurred during the preseason, a time when coaches are already trying to nail down a solid rotation.
“We use it as an opportunity to give more girls an opportunity to prove themselves,” Allred said. “As we go throughout the preseason we narrow down the rotation.”
The teams are now required to take the Thanksgiving break off and can begin practice again on Monday. The Thunder will see their first game action on Wednesday when they take on Payson. Cedar will also take the court Wednesday against Enterprise. Hurricane will be the last Region 9 team to start its season and opens with a matchup against Delta on Thursday.
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