Basketball preview: Hurricane High School

ST. GEORGE — The Hurricane girls team has a brand new roster and a new head coach, but may fly under the radar this season. For the boys team, they have three returning seniors that played a big role on the varsity roster last season and will look to improve on a third-place finish in region last season.

Hurricane girls basketball

Hurricane is coming off of an 8-14 season, with a 4-8 record in Region 9 play. All of their starters from last season’s team graduated, so the Tigers will have a new-look roster this season. Not only will there be new players, but Shelly Thomas is returning as head coach after stepping away five years ago to be with her family.

Thomas has taught at Hurricane for roughly 24 years off and on, and is taking over as head coach after finishing the cross country season, where she is also the leader. She is ready to take on this young team and get them to a spot where they can compete throughout the season.

“We just want to make sure that we have a positive season with all the changes that we’ve had to make,” Thomas said. “Get out there and do the best that we can. We want to win, but we also know that being as young as we are, we’ll be ok with a few losses here and there. We want to make sure we’re competitive.”

Hurricane girls get ready for their season, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 21, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

These changes have been a lot for the players and coaches, but Thomas coached some of these girls in the past. They know her coaching style and are happy that she is leading the program this season.

“She coached us when we were sixth, seventh and eighth grade and now she’s here finishing off,” senior Addy Lichfield said of Thomas. “So we’re excited to have her back.”

With that running and cross country background, Lichfield told us that a big focus for the team has been getting in shape. Thomas wants them to be able to get up and down the court, while having the endurance to play through fatigue in the fourth quarter and late in the season.

Thomas also mentioned that they have a smaller team in height, with some size down low, and every one of her players is quick.

“We’re looking to make sure that we pressure the ball,” Thomas said. “As far as being fast, I think that once we get steals we’ll be able to go down and get layups on the fast break.”

Kandalyn Hinton and Lichfield both agreed that they are running more than they ever had before. The Tigers are running ladders and transition drills to get in shape for the upcoming season.

Another big focus for this team is going to be finishing layups while pushing the ball up the floor. Running in transition and getting the ball up the floor is good, but you will need to be able to convert on those transition opportunities.

“Following our shots, that’s what we’re working on a lot this season… and pushing the floor,” Hinton said.

Hurricane girls get ready for their season, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 21, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

Lichfield and Hinton were both in agreement about the team’s motto this season.

“Our motto this year is ‘first,’ ” Lichfield said. “That’s first to everything, we want to be the hardest workers, first back on defense and first to the ball.”

Some players to watch for include Brooke Thomas, a three-point shooting threat, Haley Chelsey and Lydia Prince, who didn’t play much last season, and Britin Behrmann, who will be a threat down low.

With such a young roster and new coaches, Hurricane will fly under the radar, but that’s just what coach Thomas wants. She doesn’t want people talking about them, and hopes to surprise some.

The Tigers will kick the season off on the road against Richfield on Dec. 3.

Hurricane boys basketball

The Hurricane Tigers boys basketball team finished last season 11-11 overall and 7-5 in region. That 7-5 record was good enough for third place in the region, but the Tigers lost five seniors. Three juniors that played a good amount are returning, but their team doesn’t have a whole lot of experience.

Senior Bryce Thomas talked about their team chemistry, mentioning that most of the team has played together since they were in fourth grade.

Hurricane boys get ready for their season, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 21, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

“Last year, we were third in this region and it wasn’t our best team,” Thomas said. “I think we’re better this year.”

Langston spoke highly of his returning point guard, calling Thomas one of the best two players in the region. Thomas has his sights set on a big season, setting out to be the leading scorer in the region. He had some trouble last season dealing with double teams and opponents adjusting to his style of play, but he is focused on distributing the ball more this season.

That style of drive and kick basketball is what Langston is looking for. The Tigers will be perimeter dominant on offense, looking to attack and dish to the outside.

“I have seven seniors and all seven of my seniors can shoot the ball from the three point line without any problem,” Langston said. “We’re looking to kick the ball, go inside out, and we’re not going to live by the three but definitely shoot the three.”

While the Tigers can fill up the scoreboard, a focus for them will be on the defensive end. Langston agreed, defense will be a big part of the Tigers ability to get the ball out in transition and play to their advantages. Last season, the Tigers weren’t as aggressive on defense, that will change this season as they look to apply some more pressure.

“All things start at the defensive end of the floor,” Langston said. “Deflections and steals lead to easy baskets and easy transition going the other way. Defensively we’ve got some things that we’re working on, hopefully some things that will give us an advantage.”

As for some other players to watch for on this Tigers team, seniors Daxton Dayley and TJ Minor played a good amount last season, while Luke Wright and Bubba Moore will take on a bigger role as juniors.

Hurricane boys get ready for their season, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 21, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

Thomas said that the obvious goal was a state championship, but they’re also aiming for first or second in the region. Those goals can’t be taken lightly in a region filled with parity.

“I feel like the region is wide open,” Langston said. “You’ve got to play well on any given night and anybody can beat anybody.”

As for their team’s identity, Langston wants people to think of their team as scrappy.

“We’ve got to get the fifty fifty balls, we’ve got to work hard and we’ve got to get on the floor when there’s a chance for us to get the ball.”

The Hurricane boys team starts their season on the road at Enterprise high school against North Sevier. They’ll do the same in region, but Langston said they are no stranger to playing road games. The team played games throughout the offseason, all of them away from their home court.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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