Alta Smashing Through First Year of a 4A Girls BasketballJan 26, 2016 03:52PM ● By Ron Bevan
By Ron Bevan [email protected]
Sandy - The Alta girls basketball team is quickly setting itself up as the team to beat in the 4A ranks. The Hawks are using a combination of experience at the 5A level with a move down to 4A to set themselves up for a deep run into next month’s state playoffs.
“We have seven seniors and six juniors on this year’s team,” Alta coach Elizabeth Gustafson said. “We lost only three players from last year’s team, so we have a lot of returning players with experience.”
Gustafson is in her first season with the Alta program. She previously coached at Kennedy Jr. High as well as in the club leagues. As the new head coach for Alta, Gustafson keyed in on what has made Alta successful in the past, instead of changing the entire team to her methods.
“I molded my coaching to what the team wanted,” Gustafson said. “I asked them what they wanted to accomplish and they said they wanted to play fast and in control with pressure defense.”
To help get the team ready for that style of play, Gustafson set up agility and strength training during the off season.
“The training helped us be able to get up and down the court at a rapid pace,” Gustafson said. “Speed and agility have been key factors already for us this season, especially in the big games.”
Several teams have tried to slow down the Runnin’ Hawks, and Gustafson has allowed her girls to figure out how to play slow as well as fast.
“Now is when I want them to learn what to do when a team slows us down,” she said. “I have told the girls to let some teams slow us down and see what we could do with it. The state tournament isn’t when to learn how to deal with it, now is the time.”
Alta’s quick pace basketball has given the Hawks a 9-3 record, with the only losses coming in the preseason to 5A schools. Alta has scored at least 65 points eight times, with a high of 89-32 against Corner Canyon. The Hawks also posted a 79-47 victory over 5A’s Lone Peak, and a 78-64 victory at Fremont, also a 5A school.
Alta’s seniors this season include twin sisters Jessica and Abbey Anderson along with Stephanie Brenneisen, Chloe Gentile, Avery Hoopes, McCall Sieverts and Lexi Walbeck.
Despite the advantage of the veteran season class, Alta uses its mix of younger players to fill in necessary scoring positions. It is junior Mariah Martin leading all scorers with 191 points and freshman Kemery Martin with 163. The younger Martin is proving to be the long ball threat for Alta, connecting on 18 three point shots. Tatiana Thompson, also a junior, has 152 points to be the third leading scorer on the team.
Alta’s tough pre-season schedule appears to have given it the edge in region action. The Hawks have a 4-0 record in Region 7, with wins coming against Corner Canyon, 89-32, Timpview 63-53, Provo 75-37 and Orem 71-32.
While scoring seems to be the forte of the Hawks, it is the defense Gustafson says she is most proud.
“Our defense plays directly into our scoring attack,” she said. “If we continue to play defense as well as we have, it will carry us deep into the state playoffs.”