This is the first in a three-part series of top guards, forwards and centers in Region 9 boys basketball.
ST. GEORGE – The Region 9 boys basketball season gets an early start this year as the region season tips off tonight.
The following is a comprehensive preview of the top players in Region 9 and will help fans know who to look for at the guard, forward and center positions. The players that follow have been selected by their coaches as the key players that will help their teams make a successful run through the 2012-2013 campaign.
Here is how the guard position shakes out for each team.
The Warriors enter the new season with experience and depth at guard with five seniors on the roster able to play the position. However, two of their top guards, Chandler Gines and Gabe Jensen, are both recovering from ACL surgery and may be slowed early on in their contributions.
Coach James Brown said team captain Kallan Webster and Brendan Truman should be able to stretch defenses and open up the floor with their deep shooting ability. Brown also said he expects point guard Brandon Benson to change the pace of the game with his work ethic and hard defense.
The Redmen finished last season in a tie for second in the region, but this year must replace John Ursua, last year’s team assist leader and third-leading scorer. Fortunately the Redmen have senior Mike Hourigan, a player coach Craig Cardon said is capable of scoring 15 points or racking up 10 assists on any given night, depending on what the team needs.
Cedar will also look for senior Dason Coronado and junior Kordan Nielson to round out the play at the guard position. Cardon said Coronado is a great spot-up shooter and has the ability to shoot on the move. Nielson will be a hard matchup for other region teams because of his ability to attack the rim and shoot when needed.
The Flyers bring a multitude of experience to the table this year with nine seniors on the varsity roster. It’s no surprise then that coach Ryan Cuff expects senior leadership to be the key to his team’s success in the new season. Cuff will look to seniors Mitch Wilkinson and Kyler Smith to anchor the Dixie backcourt.
Last year Wilkinson saw action in every game, but will have to contribute much more this season in order for the Flyers to be successful. Smith is a team captain this year and will look to build on averages of nearly five points and three assists a game last year.
The Falcons didn’t win a single region game last year, something that is becoming all too familiar for the athletic programs at Canyon View. Coach Rob Potter and his team are ready to turn things around and have already played eight preseason games, the most of any Region 9 team.
The Falcons aren’t a real big team and Potter described them as a “bunch of guards at every position,” with players who can play the forward and on the wing. Look for senior McCoy Johnson to provide tough defense and run the offense from the point and Nate Jarvis to provide some pure shooting from the wing.
The Panthers are explosive on offense this year with three players averaging double-figures, two of which are guards. Senior Dallin Milne is leading the Pine View attack with 18 points per game and backcourt sidekick Jack Bangerter is adding another 10 points per game.
But scoring is not their only strength as Milne and Bangerter also combine for nearly nine rebounds and five steals per game. Teams will have to keep a constant eye on these two because they never take plays off.
The Thunder rattled off three straight wins to start the season before falling to Springville on Saturday and the guard play has been instrumental en route to the 3-1 record. Coach Wade Turley said after the first win that senior Ty Rutledge is the team’s top guard and so far he’s proved his coach right.
Rutledge has played in only two games due to an ankle injury suffered in the football semifinal against Spanish Fork, but leads the Thunder in scoring with about 11 points per game. Senior Chase Thompson is also pulling his weight with 10 points and two steals per game.
The Hurricane Tigers are a much different team than the one that won the 3A state championship earlier this year and it starts with the guards. Coach Brian Vaifanua was frank after a season-opening loss to Stansbury and said it could be a down year at the point guard position. Vaifanua said he expected senior Tyler Smith to be the starting point guard and so far Smith has averaged close to four points and two assists per game.
But the leader at guard for the Tigers is junior Cody Lebaron. Vaifanua said he is the best guard on the team this year and is hoping he can give the team consistent double figures. Lebaron recorded 14 points against Stansbury and is averaging eight points and three rebounds per game.
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.