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Pleasant Grove has hopes set on improvement

Pleasant Grove's Spencer Clement, Matt Hardman and Jayden Gray are part of an athletic team with excellent speed and quickness.
Pleasant Grove's Spencer Clement, Matt Hardman and Jayden Gray are part of an athletic team with excellent speed and quickness.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

PLEASANT GROVE — Following this past year's disappointing season in which neither team qualified for the playoffs, the boys and girls basketball squads at Pleasant Grove High feel this season has to be better.

When you're at the bottom of the heap, there's nowhere else to go but up.

There's good reason for the optimism in Pleasant Grove. Both teams developed a lot of youth last season and both have plenty of experience to throw in the mix. Talent does not seem to be lacking. The Vikings just need to become accustomed again to winning.

BOYS: Coach Randy McAllister says his 2005 Vikings have just about everything a basketball team could possibly have. Some of those traits, however, are good and some are not so good.

The Vikings have good size, excellent team speed and quickness, they're athletic and have depth across the roster.

"Our practices are a real battle right now with every kid still in the running for playing time," McAllister said. "Right now I can see us using 10 to 11 players in the rotation. I think we'll be able to make substitutions without losing anything."

The part that concerns McAllister and has other coaches wondering just how good the Vikings will be, is experience and chemistry. Two freshmen and a sophomore should see significant playing time and might possibly be in the starting lineup. The Vikings will also have two outstanding front line players in transfers Matt Hardman and Mitch Peterson. The Vikings' starting five that takes the court in next week's opener will be playing together for the first time.

"It's taking a little time to get everyone understanding our philosophies, but they're slowly getting it down. I don't think we'll be clicking on all cylinders for a while, but I'm hopeful that we'll all be comfortable with each other by January and playing really good basketball by then," McAllister said.

With a host of quick and athletic players in the lineup, the Vikings will play an uptempo and pressure-defense style of basketball.

"We won't be a walk-it-up-the-court and call-a-play kind of team. We're too athletic. It would be a disservice to slow a team like this down," McAllister said.

The Vikings coaches have been spending significant practice time focusing on defensive skills. Solid defense has always been a trait of McAllister's teams.

"I expect a very aggressive defensive team," he said.

But the Vikings' defense, just like everything else with a group of unfamiliar players, is still a work in progress. But most across Utah Valley have high expectations for this Pleasant Grove team.

"Even though I think we can be a very good team, until we do something to prove it, I'm not going to say that we are," McAllister said.

GIRLS: After a disappointing season last year, the Vikings lost only one player to graduation and they're returning seven players that started at different times during the year. With plenty of experience returning and some new height coming in to help out, the Pleasant Grove girls are looking to improve enough to make the playoffs.

"We're optimistic about this year, but we haven't done anything yet," said Pleasant Grove coach Glenn Larson. "We're going to try to run the ball, do a little pressing, because we have some quickness, but we should be able to play in the half court too when we need to with our height."

Other coaches in the region agree, giving the Vikings credit enough to place them in fourth place in early polls with a state tournament appearance in their future this year.

Larson believes his team's best attribute is the versatility and balance they've shown early in practices. But he also plans to count on returning team leader Alisa Sampson to take charge and lead the squad.

"She never runs out of energy. She really gets after it, and she knows how to take the charge, stop on the break, rebound, finish the layup, shoot for distance, whatever we ask," Larson noted.

They have a couple of good shooters in Maegan Johnson and Chelsea Yarn and a tough rebounder in Kailee May. Kristy Giles has some good inside moves to go along with her 6-foot frame, and she can dribble the ball and play on the perimeter as well.

Overall, there's plenty to be optimistic about in Viking land this season as far as the girls' basketball team is concerned, maybe even a run at the playoffs.

Pleasant Grove Vikings: Boys basketball

Class: 5A

League: Region 4

Last season: 8-14, fourth in Region 7

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: Third

Head coach: Randy McAllister, fourth year

Assistant coaches: Shawn Faux, Bryce Hilmo

Key returning players: Greg Thurgood, 6-foot-1 guard, Sr.; Jayden Gray, 6-foot-1 guard, Sr.; Lane Wilkes, 6-foot-1 guard, Sr.; Spencer Clement, 6-foot-4 center, Sr.

Newcomers: Matt Hardman, 6-foot-5 forward, Sr.; Mitch Peterson, 6-foot-5 forward, Sr.; Craig Tucker, 6-foot-2 guard, So.; LeSean Wilcox, 5-foot-10 guard, Fr.; Tallon Robertson, 6-foot-2 forward, Jr.; C.J. Wilcox, 6-foot-3 guard, Fr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 29 — Provo

Dec. 1 — Granger at Delta Center

Dec. 6-10 — Bill Reynolds Classic at Newport Beach

Dec. 14 — Payson

Dec. 20 — Lehi

Dec. 30 — Alta at E-Center

Jan. 4 — Springville

Jan. 6 — Kearns

Jan. 11 — Mountain View

Jan. 13 — Timpanogos

Jan. 18 — American Fork

Jan. 20 — Spanish Fork

Jan. 25 — Lone Peak

Jan. 27 — Timpanogos

Feb. 3 — Mountain View

Feb. 7 — American Fork

Feb. 15 — Spanish Fork

Feb. 21 — Lone Peak

Pleasant Grove Vikings: Girls basketball

Class: 5A

League: Region 4

Last season: 4-17, fifth in Region 7,

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: Fourth

Head coach: Glenn Larson, fourth year

Assistant coaches: Doug Larson, Pamela Dahl

Key returning players: Alisa Sampson, 5-foot-10 guard/forward, Sr.; Aimee Dorais, 5-foot-6 guard, Jr.; Maegan Johnson, 5-foot-10 forward, Sr.; Loke Yuzon, 5-foot-2 guard, Sr.; Kristy Giles, 6-foot-0 forward/center, Jr.; Chelsea Yarn, 5-foot-9 guard/forward, Sr.; Kailee May, 5-foot-11 forward/center, Jr.

Newcomers: Heather Dahl, 5-foot-9 guard/forward, Jr.; Debbie Ireland, 6-foot-1 center, Jr.; Carlie Dixon, 5-foot-9 forward, So.; Whitney Giles, 5-foot-10 guard/forward, So.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 22 — Provo 62, Pl. Grove 57

Nov. 29 — Granger

Dec. 1 — Cyprus

Dec. 6 — Orem

Dec. 8 — Juan Diego

Dec. 15 — TBA @ Winslow HS

Dec. 16 — TBA @ Winslow HS

Dec. 17 — TBA @ Winslow HS

Jan. 3 — Ben Lomond

Jan. 4 — Mountain View

Jan. 6 — Springville

Jan. 13 — Timpanogos

Jan. 17 — American Fork

Jan. 20 — Spanish Fork

Jan. 25 — Lone Peak

Jan. 31 — Timpanogos

Feb. 3 — Mountain View

Feb. 7 — American Fork

Feb. 10 — Lone Peak

Feb. 14 — Spanish Fork

Next: American Fork