ST. GEORGE — For the Dixie boys team they bring in a new roster along with a new style of play. They will be a much different team in terms of style of play and look. For the girls basketball team they will be in a similar situation. They lost seven seniors from last season, but boast some more returners to help. They will look to compete in an extremely competitive Region 9, both boys and girls.
Dixie boys basketball
Last season, the Flyers finished with the best overall record in the region at 19-6, but found themselves a half game behind Pine View for the region championship. They made it to the quarterfinals of the state tournament, where they lost by 10 eventual Class 4A champions Sky View.
The biggest difference from last season will be the Flyers style of play. Head coach Tyler Roberts spoke about how he likes to coach to how his roster is filled out, not the other way around. He is adapting to how this team plays, and they like to play a little bit faster.
Last year, they played with a slower pace and ran a zone defense most of the time. This season, they will get out in transition, pressure their opponents a bit more on defense and play more man-to-man. With that pace comes the necessity to be in good physical condition.
“That’s a big part of us this year, being in good shape,” Roberts said. “We’ve got to be in good condition. We want to be able to push it and we have good guards who have good ball handling skills, and just play off of it.”
The good news for Dixie is that they are returning some pieces that played a fair amount, while also bringing back one big and much improved piece in the middle, Noah Lemke.
Lemke was dominant in their practice. Granted, there is not much other height on the Dixie roster, but his ability to use his length and his size to score down low was easily seen. Not only is he a good finisher around the rim, but he brings a solid back to the basket game as well. Overall, the Flyers are using him to their advantage. With a great package of moves combined with an ability to seal off his defenders, Lemke will be one of the only players with that kind of size in the region. He will be a big piece for the Flyers this season, literally and figuratively.
Roberts spoke about the work that Lemke put in throughout the offseason, and the improvement he’s shown. Lemke believes he can be dominant in the region, and is excited to see what he will bring to the Flyers this season.
“My team is using me a lot more this year and their looking for me a lot more,” Lemke said. “It’s awesome because there’s not a lot of guys out there that are like me.”
Add in a group of solid guards in Isaac Finlinson, Ethan Bennett and Jordan Matthews,and the Flyers will be a formidable opponent come season. Roberts spoke about their depth, and how they would not skip a beat if they went with a 10-man rotation.
When asked about who is playing well and meshing with the team, Matthews responded, “Honestly all of us. We’ve got a strong family bond.”
That is what the Flyers want to be known for. Even Roberts brought that up.
“I can tell you this: this group has bought into family,” Roberts said. “I’m a coach that believes in that. I feel like if they love each other, which they do, things will just happen on the court for them. Most of them have known each other for a long time and them have bought into bringing each other in and having that team atmosphere. We call it fly fam. That’s our identity, that’s who we are.”
The Flyers kick off the season with a tournament at Corner Canyon. They’ll play Syracuse, Utah on December 5, with other games to follow in that tournament.
Dixie girls basketball
Dixie finished third in Region 9 last season with a 13-11 overall record and a 7-5 region record. The Flyers’ season ended after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Spanish Fork in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament last season. Dixie also lost seven seniors from that team, but head coach Ryan Forsey didn’t seem too worried about it. This team will be different, but they are returning a number of players who contributed last season.
“We’re not really reloading a ton this year, we’re returning three seniors, and then the rest of our junior class got a lot of time last year,” Forsey said. “We’ll be competitive, but we’ll be small. We’ll be small and scrappy and try to use our quickness and speed to our advantage.”
Forsey also brought up the Flyers’ depth, saying they have a solid seven- to eight-girl rotation right now. Sina Schwalger, Joslyn Bundy and Mel Alo are all returning with experience from last season. Enid Vaifanua will be fighting back from an ACL tear in her freshman year, but will be an added piece for the Flyers when healthy. Lastly Forsey brought up Addison Shaffer, a junior who will give the Flyers a good boost.
This season, the Flyers will look to push the ball, whereas last season they were more half-court oriented. That fits in with a fast and competitive region. With that speed normally comes fatigue, but the Flyers have been running to make sure they can get their conditioning on track.
“We are trying to run a lot and get in shape because we are smaller, so we want to get down the court and have a fast transition,” Bundy said.
While losing a large amount of seniors creates a gap in scoring and leadership, last year’s juniors will add on experience, and that will be valuable.
“I think every year, we have that responsibility because we’ve always been playing at that upper level,” Schwalger said. “I think just carrying that on from last year will be a good thing.”
Last season, Cedar dominated not only in region play but in the whole season. They went 25-0 on their way to the Class 4A championship. With such a daunting opponent ahead of them, the Flyers are looking up at the Reds, who are returning almost their entire team from last season. Forsey said that it’s anybody’s game for second, and it will be a close race.
Bundy is ready for the challenge and said it was motivating to see the Reds returning such a dominant team. “We want to beat them,” she said.
The Flyers open their season up against host Enterprise on December 3.
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