The 2012-13 girls basketball team looks to defend their title, with eight players returning from last year’s team, four of them seniors; more experience moving up from the junior-varsity squad; and a transfer student from the Navajo rez. Earlier in November, head coach Shawn Lytle said, “We have a good chance at contending again for the championship. We have a lot of returners, and our defense is going to change up from last year.” The new defense Lytle is installing will be a 1-2-2 zone, utilizing the quickness of the Lady Eagles should increase more turnovers, allowing the Lady Eagles to fast breaks on the ball and capitalizing on the turnovers.
“We’re going to go undefeated, quote me on that!” stated power forward Becky Briones. The starting junior, from the Community, explained that her team is doing really well, and with good grades and retaining good team chemistry, they will defend their title.
The Lady Eagles started their season at home against Salome on November 26. Displaying why they are the 2012-13 champions, the Lady Eagles punished their opponent, with a final score of 66-32. The new defense looks promising, led by the wingspan of senior Joy Manuel, No. 5, who finished last season with 148 steals.
The boys varsity squad looks to improve last year’s numbers while losing two starters from last year’s team. Six returning players and a few new faces give the Eagles some depth on their lineup, with nine players as seniors. The team will be led by guards John Hill and Robert Norris, both seniors, with a field-goal percentage of about 50 percent.
“When we talk about a team who knows what to do, we are there. We just need to go hard. We can expect to be successful. I can guarantee you that these guys come to play hard, every day. They practice hard every day and do exactly what we ask of them,” said head coach Dino Pucetti.
The Eagles opened their season at home against the Salome Frogs on November 26 as well. The Eagles held off their opponent, defeating them with a final score of 44-35. Senior guard John Hill, No. 5, finished with 11 points, four rebounds and eight assists. The Eagles will host a tournament, the Salt River Shootout Tournament, on January 3 and 4.
Girls Junior Varsity
The girls junior varsity team looks to have a successful season, with a few returning players leading the way. On November 26, the JV squad defeated Salome, 23-14. Returning guard Tillie Miles said, “The team will do good if we work together.”
Last season, Miles went down with a torn ACL, missing a majority of the season. After surgery and rehab, she is back on the court with a brace and looks to be competitive.
“I’m nervous to be on the court again. Getting over the mental hump is going to be the challenge for me personally,” said Miles about her knee. The aggressive guard will look to be playing for both the JV and varsity squads in the 2013–14 season.
Boys Junior Varsity
This year the boys JV squad has only four returning players. However, the core four have proved to be leaders and stepped up to fill key roles.
“Last year we really didn’t have any leadership, but Dion [Pilger] did really well, the best I’ve seen him play. He was directing people, kept his head and was more composed. We have three or four guys that haven’t played before, but they stepped up as well,” said head coach Felix Muniz about his team.
On November 26, following the JV girls match-up, the JV boys handed their opponent, Salome, their first loss of the season with a punishing score of 51-27. “Our season looks bright after tonight’s win. We had some good leadership, no attitudes, and it was nice to see all of that in the first game,” added Muniz.
Overall, the SRHS basketball squads have their technical issues to work on, as does every other team during the start of the season. All teams have expectations and look to make the 2013-14 a successful one. “Salt River High School is only 10 years old. When we see a lot of new faces show up and wanting to learn the game it’s a good thing. They can get a good education and compete for their high school that is majority native. We are looking forward to growing and filling up a full roster for varsity and junior varsity,” said Lytle when asked about all the new faces he’s seen in both fall and winter sports programs.
Keep an eye out for a follow-up article on all winter sports in the middle of the season.