CEDAR CITY — Although Canyon View High School will be dropping back down to the 3A classification starting in fall 2021, the Falcons are still looking forward to competing the remainder of the 2020-21 school year as a member of 4A’s Region 9.
In connection with region play starting this week, here’s a brief outlook of this year’s Canyon View’s boys and girls basketball teams.
After a 3-5 preseason that included wins on the final two days of the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic tournament, the Canyon View girls team is hoping last week’s victories over Juab and Tooele will give them some momentum heading into the regular season.
Canyon View’s first Region 9 game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Desert Hills High School.
Two of the Falcons’ key returning players are senior guard Addison Newman and junior post player Harlee Nicoll. Both are double-digit scorers with plenty of varsity experience.
“We have had to rely on Addy and Harlee to do the bulk of our scoring so far this year,” said Canyon View head coach Jaycee Barnhurst. “They will continue to do so, but now we need to find growth in some of our less experienced players and allow for them to chip into that weight our other two players carry right now.”
“I feel like this year, more so than any other season, we have a bench full of key players,” Barnhurst added. “We expect different things from each girl, and on a given night we might need them. We are huge on being a team, and that includes every player, not just one or two.”
One of the main challenges has been to fill the center position previously occupied by Ashlyn Banks, who graduated in 2020, the coach added.
“We lost a huge contributor, in scoring and rebounding, in Ashlyn Banks last year,” Barnhurst said. “We have had to pick up that slack elsewhere. This year it’s taking a committee versus one or two players.”
Barnhurst said she’s encouraged by the progress she’s seen the Falcons make so far this season.
“We started off our preseason slowly, picking up a handful of losses early on,” she said. “During the Hodson Classic, we were able to pick up two wins against Juab and Tooele (in triple OT). We had a few kinks to work out early on, but I feel like we are making great strides to becoming the team we have the potential of being.”
She added that the team has made “huge improvements” defensively, both one-on-one and as a team.
“We need to find a way to be consistent scorers and to take care of the ball every possession.”
Barnhurst said the Falcons have increased in speed, quickness and competitiveness this year. The team is averaging 30 rebounds and 11 steals per game thus far.
“It has been a big push for this program to be the team that is taking control on the hard things or the things most other teams don’t want to do,” she said. “This is something that can and will set us apart from other teams.”
Barnhust said her team and coaching staff continues to stringently follow COVD-19 safety guidelines.
“Our team has been pretty lucky in the fact that most of our athletes have been able to stay healthy and out of its way,” she said. “As a program and a coaching staff, we are cracking down on the protocols.”
Barnhurst said keeping athletes stay safe and healthy so they can have a successful season is her biggest priority.
“We competed in a lot of games last year, and this year we are ready to make our mark,” she said. “We, like most other teams, still have lots of work to do. We aren’t where we want to be, but we are headed in the right direction. We are ready to make some noise in Region 9 before everything changes next year. As a team, each girl, each coach, we are bought in and doing our best to make this happen.”
The Canyon View boys finished their preseason schedule with a 1-7 record, with the lone win coming in a 56-54 overtime contest at Ben Lomond on Dec. 4.
Canyon View will open its regular season at home Wednesday night when the Falcons host the undefeated Desert Hills Thunder, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Canyon View head coach Rob Potter said the Falcons are hoping to be “more balanced and hopefully a little deeper than last year.”
“We don’t have the raw individual talent we have had in years past, but we do have several guys capable of leading our team in several areas,” Potter said.
Among the key returning players are seniors Cole Farrow and Brenden Greenhalgh, both of whom are valuable scorers who worked hard to improve during the off-season, their coach said.
Potter also listed several other seniors whom he sees as key contributors on this year’s squad.
“Jake Tom really improved in defense and rebounding, and he is playing inspired in honor of losing his dad earlier this season,” Potter said. “Tyler Maine is a good athlete who can catch and shoot and play tough defense. Tray Allred is a long guard who looks to get the ball to his teammates. Hayden Zobell has gotten stronger and adds some toughness in rebounding and finishing inside, as well as spotting up from 3.”
Additionally, Potter said, the team has a number of underclassmen who are looking to help out the team in various roles, including juniors Adrian Ward, Jace Mitchell, Skylar Hignite and Shane Gardner and sophomores Andrew Barnes and Cooper Malcom.
“We would like to press and run a little more than last year, but are still struggling to buy in and get on the same page,” Potter said. “We have shot several threes per game, as usual, and are still looking to attack the paint as things open up.”
The coach said the biggest difference this year is size.
“We hope to be able to play through the post more.”
Potter said he’s hoping to see the team’s field goal shooting percentage improve as the season progresses.
“We have squandered some opportunities in the preseason, as we have shot at a much lower percentage than I thought we would, and we lost some close games we needed to get in order to improve our RPI.”
But notwithstanding any low RPI rating it may have, Potter said the Falcons hope to be competitive in an already highly competitive Region 9.
“The good news is that even if our RPI isn’t the greatest, if we can compete in Region 9 we can compete with anyone in the 4A classification,” he said. “There are four or five teams in Region 9 who legitimately could (take state) in 4A.”
Nevertheless, Potter said he believes the Falcons can legitimately compete against any of the region’s top teams.
“There’s none that I think, ‘Oh we don’t stand a chance against them.’”
He said his players and coaching staff are focusing on trying to stay healthy and avoid further issues with COVID-19.
“We have had several coaches and players already have it or be exposed and be quarantined,” he said. “This region season will be about who can stay the healthiest and have their guys able to go at game time.”
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