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Knight time to be prime time?

Defending champs loaded; girls have high expectations

Matt Bailey, left, Grant Cummings and Cory Chase are some of the key members of the boys basketball team at Lone Peak High.
Matt Bailey, left, Grant Cummings and Cory Chase are some of the key members of the boys basketball team at Lone Peak High.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

This could be the season both the Lone Peak girls and boys teams could make some noise in state competition. The boys won the state title last year, and though they lost the state's top player and some other core teammembers, they're expected to be right back in the chase this season.

The girls spent last season building expectations for this year. And now they have the pressure that goes with them. Ranked by other coaches in the state as one of the top five teams in the preseason, these girls have a lot to live up to. But they have the athletes and shooters to do it.

All in all, this year is expected to provide great dividends on the court for both sets of basketball teams. Now they just have to live up to expectations, play the games on the court and push themselves deep into the state playoffs.

GIRLS: With experience comes confidence and a solid outlook. The Lone Peak girls finished last year strong even though they were in fourth place in league by the end of the season. And they have high hopes for the season ahead.

The Knights lost only one senior that saw many minutes last year, so the experience factor will come into play. And most of all, these girls are athletes that can find the bottom of the hoop. Even last season they were one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the state, and most of that shot-making ability returns to the court this year. With the long-range abilities of such players as Mari Larsen and Caitlyn Sears, the Knights make teams cover them tightly from the outside.

That necessary long-distance defense should open up the middle a little for the Knights' post players. With Whitlie Murdoch driving to the hole along with Mikala Wilkes and Sears, Lone Peak has little to fear in the paint.

"Murdoch is not a great shooter, but she's a great penetrator, and she's a defensive stopper," said Lone Peak coach Keith Flood. Sears provides the double threat, and even though Amanda Prestwich isn't a huge presence in the middle with her size, the center provides plenty of skill for the Knights.

"She can shoot the 3 too, and she can put the ball on the floor," said Flood, who added, "we hope to get up and down the floor. We're a good athletic team with a lot of shooters, and we hope to get up and down the floor."

Last year, his team came out of the season dealing with a little disappointment because they hadn't accomplished all that they wanted to, but this season their depth and another year under their belts should allow the aggressive defensive style to work a little more effectively. But though this team hopes to run and gun, they can certainly compete in the halfcourt with most teams as well giving them a one-two punch that most teams only dream of having.

Lone Peak is expected to be one of the top teams in the state this season and is only looking up at nationally ranked Mountain View in their own league.

BOYS: Some teams coming off a championship season would feel pressured to live up to high expectations. But when a team establishes a winning tradition over a long period the pressure turns into confidence and comfort. The mystique has a way of taking away any doubt that players might have about their ability.

"A winning basketball tradition is almost worth two or three wins a year for the schools that have that," Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said.

The Knights haven't been around quite long enough to be at that level yet, but they're close. And even though Lewis is only in his third season at Lone Peak, coaches around the state already consider his program to be one of the best — which is why many still expect the Knights to be right near the top when things are done this season despite the fact that Lewis lost the core of his lineup and state's top player.

The Knights might not have that player who can carry a team like they did last year, but they do have a nice mix of young talent and seasoned players that provides them the right chemistry to eventually be a title-contending team. And there isn't one coach in Region 4 who doesn't view Lone Peak as the team to beat.

"I really like how the few guys that I do have back are showing some leadership and how those who will see varsity action for the first time are showing some poise," Lewis said.

The key player returning for Lewis is senior Cory Chase — a player who will be starting for his third season but also a player who has missed about half his high school career because of illness and injury. Most familiar with Lone Peak's program say basketball fans in Utah Valley have yet to see Chase at his best.

"Chase has to remain healthy for us to have any success," Lewis said. "For us to have a good season, he needs to be in the lineup every game."

Seniors Matt Bailey and Grant Cummings both came off the bench last season, but the rest of Lone Peak's lineup will be juniors, sophomores and even a freshman: Tyler Haws will see significant playing time.

"We're very high on the talent level but kind of low on the experience level. And I've always said that teams are only as good as their defense, and that's a part of the game where we still have a long way to go yet," Lewis said.

Lone Peak Knights: Boys basketball

Class: 5A

League: Region 4

Last season: 21-4, first in Region 7, 4A state champions

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: First

Head coach: Quincy Lewis, 3rd year

Assistant coach: Tom Perkins, Reed Bromley, Brandon Stoddard, Joe Green, Brendan Dayton

Key returning players: Grant Cummings, 5-foot-10 guard, Sr.; Matt Bailey, 6-foot-5 forward, Sr.; Cory Chase, 6-foot-5 forward, Sr.; Ryan Rios, 5-foot-10 guard, Jr.

Newcomers: Bracken Funk, 6-foot-6 center, So.; Kevin Lindquist, 6-foot-6 center, Jr.; Tyler Haws, 6-foot-3 guard, Fr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 22 - Fremont 48, Lone Peak 47

Nov. 30 - at Lehi

Dec. 7 - Alta at E-Center

Dec. 9 - TBA at E-Center

Dec.13 - Logan

Dec. 17 - Viewmont

Dec. 22 - at Great 8 Tournament

Dec. 23 - at Great 8 Tournament

Jan. 4 - Timpview

Jan. 6 - Provo

Jan. 11 - Timpanogos

Jan. 13 - Spanish Fork

Jan. 18 - Mountain View

Jan. 20 - American Fork

Jan. 25 - Pleasant Grove

Jan. 27 - Spanish Fork

Feb. 3 - Timpanogos

Feb. 7 - Mountain View

Feb. 15 - American Fork

Feb. 21 - Pleasant Grove

Lone Peak Knights: Girls basketball

Class: 5A

League: Region 4

Last season: 8-14, fourth in Region 7

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: Second

Head coach: Keith Flood, 2nd year

Assistant coaches: Mark Holden, Angie Webb

Key returning players: Lindsey Pflueger, 5-foot-8 guard, Sr.; Mikala Wilkes, 5-foot-8 guard, Sr.; Whitlie Murdoch, 5-foot-9 guard, Sr.; Mari Larsen, 5-foot-10 forward, Sr.; Caitlyn Sears, 5-foot-10 guard, Jr.; Amanda Prestwich, 5-foot-11 center, Jr.; Shannon Harmer, 5-toot-10 forward, Jr.

Newcomers: Shantell Flanary, 5-foot-5 guard, So.; Amanda Ferris, 5-foot-11 center/forward, So.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 29 - Hunter

Dec. 5 - Clearfield

Dec. 6 - Springville

Dec. 8 - Provo

Dec. 9 - Timpview

Dec. 13 - Taylorsville

Dec. 19 - TBA @ Las Vegas HS

Dec. 20 - TBA @ Las Vegas HS

Dec. 21 - TBA @ Las Vegas HS

Dec. 22 - TBA @ Las Vegas HS

Jan. 4 - Timpanogos

Jan. 5 - Lehi

Jan. 13 - Spanish Fork

Jan. 17 - Mountain View

Jan. 20 - American Fork

Jan. 25 - Pleasant Grove

Jan. 27 - Spanish Fork

Feb. 3 - Timpanogos

Feb. 7 - Mountain View

Feb. 10 - Pleasant Grove

Feb. 14 - American Fork