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Timpanogos gets new start in hoops

Both boys and girls teams welcome new head coaches

Chelsey Brown, left, Cali Nelson, Amy Weitzeil and Jennifer Harris are key members of the Timpanogos High School girls basketball team.
Chelsey Brown, left, Cali Nelson, Amy Weitzeil and Jennifer Harris are key members of the Timpanogos High School girls basketball team.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

OREM — The beginning of basketball season is a whole new start for every team, but this season is even more of a new start for the teams at Timpanogos High.

Both the boys and girls teams have new coaches. The slate is clean for both programs and it's a new beginning for the Timberwolves. Clay Anderson, a former assistant at Utah Valley State College, takes over the boys program. Elizabeth Darger, a former assistant under Ray Scott at Timpview, takes over the girls team.

The biggest difference between the two squads is experience. The girls team has four familiar faces back in the lineup, while the boys team has only two players with much varsity experience. Because other teams don't know what to expect from the T-Wolves, they should be able to catch a few teams off guard and pull off a few upsets.

GIRLS: Uptempo is the name of the game. The Timpanogos team doesn't plan to change last year's style despite a new coach and several changes in personnel.

"I want to give them a lot of freedom to create in an offense. They play the best when they have some freedom," said new Timpanogos coach Elizabeth Darger. The team is going to look a lot like it did last season as it uses its athletes to press and break.

"The girls like to play like that," she added, and noted that she'll even put up with a few turnovers if they can make the run-and-gun work most of the time.

The T-Wolves have a great combination of athleticism and height, and they plan to use both to punish other teams. They played plenty of games last summer and impressed not only their new head coach but other head coaches around the valley. They'll count heavily on the post play with the guards coming in as question marks.

But two players will definitely lead the team as Jen Harris will use her ball-handling and driving ability to stymie other teams. She's a lefty pure shooter who picked up some post moves last summer and has a nose for the ball. She'll be joined by Chelsea Brown, a long range shooter, who also has a sense for the basketball. She knows how to drive and used the backboard. The two are similar players who will come into this season with the game on their shoulders.

But their coach is confident that if anyone can carry the load and the pressure it's Brown and Harris.

The Timberwolves should ride their style to yet another third place finish in the league, behind the two league powers.

BOYS: One look at the T-Wolves in practice and you're sure to wonder if all of the big guys are still in the locker room getting dressed. Other than senior center Ben Cook, who stands 6-foot-6, the T-Wolves are basically a team of guards and small forwards. Teams with that kind of makeup always rely on a fast tempo game to negate the size factor.

"We're going to have to run a lot to keep teams from coming down and setting up on us," coach Clay Anderson said.

Although lacking size, the T-Wolves are not lacking in speed and quickness. They're also a group of good shooters. But Anderson will rely a lot on his smaller lineup playing pressure defense and trying to force opponents into taking bad shots.

"Shooting comes and goes, but good defense is constant and if you always think that way you should be OK," he said.

In practice so far Anderson has worked extensively on the mental aspects of the game. He's even had the players counseled by a sports psychologist — hoping to make his players tougher mentally. The new coach stresses the importance of being a good finisher.

"We talk everyday about being prepared and what it takes to be prepared," Anderson said. "When these kids step on the court they need to come ready to play."

The T-Wolves coaches have also emphasized the need to be good communicators on the floor. Good team chemistry can make up for a lot of other shortfalls in the game.

"If we talk a lot on the court we should be OK. If we don't, we could get killed," he said.

With only two returning players with varsity experience, many might call this a rebuilding year for the T-Wolves. But teams don't rebuild with seven seniors, which indicates Anderson plans on putting a competitive team out on the court every night.

"We want to be in the hunt this season," he said.

It's vital for the T-Wolves to gain some confidence early in the season. However, they have a very difficult schedule and could find themselves in an uphill battle from the very first tip.

"If the early going is rough then it's going to be a challenge. It's critical that we get some victories early," Anderson said.

Timpanogos Timberwolves Girls basketball

Class: 5A

League: Region 4

Last season: 20-3, third in Region 7,

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: Third

Head coach: Elizabeth Darger, 1st year

Assistant coaches: Julie Millet, Liz Thomsen, Tara Swift

Key returning players: Jen Harris, 5-foot-11 guard, Sr.; Chelsea Brown, 5-foot-11 guard, Sr.; Cali Nelson, 6-foot-1 center, Jr.; Amy Weitzeil, 6-foot-1 forward, Jr.

Newcomers: Megan Bishop, 5-foot-8 guard, So.; Jennifer Nielsen, 5-foot-11 guard, Jr.; Brei Brown, 5-foot-6 guard, Jr.;

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 22 - Timpanogos 80, Lehi 51

Nov. 29 - Jordan

Dec. 1 - Orem

Dec. 6 - Provo

Dec. 8 - Springville

Dec. 13 - Davis

Dec. 15 - Payson

Dec. 17 - TBA @ Phoenix

Dec. 19 - TBA @ Phoenix

Dec. 20 - TBA @ Phoenix

Dec. 21 - TBA @ Phoenix

Dec. 22 - TBA @ Phoenix

Dec. 23 - TBA @ Phoenix

Jan. 4 - Lone Peak

Jan. 13 - Pleasant Grove

Jan. 17 - Spanish Fork

Jan. 19 - Mountain View

Jan. 24 - American Fork

Jan. 31 - Pleasant Grove

Feb. 3 - Lone Peak

Feb. 8 - Spanish Fork

Feb. 10 - American Fork

Feb. 14 - Mountain View

Timpanogos Timberwolves Boys basketball

Class: 5A

League: Region 4

Last season: 6-16, fourth in Region 7, lost play-in game

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: Sixth

Head coach: Clay Anderson, 1st year

Assistant coaches: Jenner Wilson, Justin Snell

Key returning players: Cole McWhorter, 5-foot-10 guard, Sr.; Ben Cook, 6-foot-6 center, Sr.

Newcomers: Jordan Anderson, 6-foot-2 guard, Sr.; Ryan Clarke, 5-foot-10 guard, Jr.; Skyler Halford, 6-foot guard, So.; Alex Johnson, 6-foot guard, Sr.; Nate Henshaw, 6-foot-2 forward, Jr.; Tosh Anderson, 5-foot-9 guard, Sr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 22 - Riverton 89, Timpanogos 74

Dec. 2 - Timpview

Dec. 6 - Fremont at E-Center

Dec. 16 - Woods Cross

Dec. 20 - Payson

Dec. 26-31 - Torrey Pines Tournament at San Diego

Jan. 4 - Provo

Jan. 6 - Springville

Jan. 11 - Lone Peak

Jan. 13 - Pleasant Grove

Jan. 18 - Spanish Fork

Jan. 20 - Mountain View

Jan. 25 - American Fork

Jan. 27 - Pleasant Grove

Feb. 3 - Lone Peak

Feb. 7 - Spanish Fork

Feb. 15 - Mountain View

Feb. 21 - American Fork

Tomorrow: Pleasant Grove


E-mail: jimr@desnews.com, jolsen@desnews.com