ST. GEORGE — Both Snow Canyon Warriors boys and girls basketball teams finished last season with the exact same record: 8-17. But with coach Doug Meacham heading into his second year with the boys and state title-winning coach Dan Roden returning to Snow Canyon for the girls, it should be a good year for both teams.
Snow Canyon boys basketball
The excitement level is high around the Snow Canyon boys program as head coach Doug Meacham begins his second year at the helm of the program. Last season the Warriors finished 8-17 overall and 4-9 in region. Their leading scorer, Cole Warner, is returning for his senior season after averaging 12.9 points per game, while Mckay Meacham will also be back after averaging 6.3 points per game.
“I’m excited for this group of guys because I feel like we have been together now, and expectations have been laid out of how we want to play – our style of play – and I’m really excited about our leadership this year,” Doug Meacham said. “I feel like we’ve got guys who are walking the talking, and when that happens that can be a good thing.”
The main focus for Meacham and his team has been defense and transition offense. Warner even pointed to defense as being a much bigger emphasis for the Warriors from the start of the season. With good guard play and some length and size in the post, Snow Canyon seems to have a very well-rounded roster.
Lincoln Polatis, a junior point guard will be another big piece for the Warriors. He transferred from Dixie and dealt with some eligibility issues last season but will be coming in at full strength this season. Boom Dalton was also another name mentioned as a strong contributor for Snow Canyon. Add in some solid sophomores and young pieces, of whom Meacham was also complimentary, and the Warriors look to improve on this year’s finish in the region.
“I think there’s going to be days where Cole can go off for 18 or 20 points and another game he might have 8 steals and less points, but there’s other guys that can fill the gap with scoring,” Meacham said. “I feel like we have a group that is committed to defending as a team, and I think that’s going to help us.”
That defense will play a big role. The Warriors only scored 37.6 points per game last season, according to MaxPreps, while allowing teams to score in the 60s.
As a senior, Warner is ready to go out with a bang. The returning leading scorer said he has changed his mindset this season and is looking to be a distributor. Snow Canyon plans to surround him with shooters, which will allow him to drive to the paint and distribute out. Last season Warner had some trouble trusting his teammates to knock down shots, he said, but this year he feels much more confident in kicking it out.
“The biggest thing this year for me is trying to get everyone else involved,” Warner said. “It’s not really about scoring, it’s about distributing and getting the best shot for the team, and if that’s me taking it or someone else it doesn’t really matter. Good fundamental shots are what is most important.”
As for expectations, some teams are quick to turn their attention to a region championship. Meacham is more focused on growth throughout the season, which means they’ll be at their best come playoff time.
“A steady growth at the end of the year,” Meacham said. “Now with the RPI, it’s ‘Are you playing your best ball at the end of the year?'”
Snow Canyon starts their season on Tuesday at home against fellow Class 4A team Park City with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon girls basketball
The Warriors girls basketball team also finished 8-17 overall last season, ending 5-8 in conference. Outside of Cedar, only four games separated second place and seventh place in the region. Once you get past the Reds, the parity is there, and Snow Canyon is hoping to be in that race for a top spot in Region 9.
With seven seniors coming back, a top spot in the region is not out of reach.
“It’s anybody’s game for second to be honest,” head coach Dan Roden said. “I think we can all beat each other on any given night.”
Roden is coming back to Snow Canyon after being gone for two seasons, before which he was at the helm for four years, leading the Warriors to a state championship in 2016 and assisting on the 2012 state title team. Roden has history at Snow Canyon, and he even coached some of his current players as eighth graders and freshman. They are used to his coaching style, so this is not a major change for the players.
“It’s funny coming back, but there’s a lot of turnover since I’ve been gone,” Roden said. “I’m excited. (There are) a lot of good players in the region, and I think it prepares our region well for when we get to the state tournament because we do have five or six really good teams.”
Roden believes in the Roy Williams philosophy. The hall of fame head coach at North Carolina wants his team to play fast, therefore getting more possessions per game. The Warriors will be playing the same way.
Their ability to run the ball in transition will be a big key for Snow Canyon. Their practice was filled with transition drills, which means you need to be in shape.
“We’re up tempo,” Roden said. “We’ve got some good athletes and some pretty fast girls that like to get up and down the floor, and that’s what we want to do.”
On defense the Warriors are focused on clogging up the gaps and openings. They want to take away driving lanes, forcing the ball to get kicked out. A defense like this can suffocate teams and fluster players who get caught in the middle of it. Look out for deflections and steals as the Warriors will be digging in on drives then getting out in transition to get easy baskets.
“I think that’s definitely our best tactic this year,” senior Olivia Harris said of their defense leading to offense. “It’s going to work really well for us.”
Tylei Jensen, Olivia Harris, Hallie Remund and Rachel Durante are some players that Roden mentioned to keep an eye on. With all of them being returning seniors, the Warriors have a good group of leaders.
Jensen, coming off her senior year on the Region 9 co-champion Snow Canyon soccer team, is already in pretty good shape heading into basketball season. She was quick to bring up a state title as the ultimate goal but pointed to the team’s performance in practice every day as a starting place.
“Making sure we’re being consistent and holding ourselves accountable,” Jensen said. “That will lead to a region championship, which we hope for and have that in mind.”
The Lady Warriors will kick off the 2019-20 season against Box Elder at Desert Hills on Dec. 5.
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