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Springville hopes to spring back

Both girls and boys squads see more improvement on the court

Springville High School girls basketball stars Nicole Morin, left, Macall Radford, center, and Cori Nielson on the court.
Springville High School girls basketball stars Nicole Morin, left, Macall Radford, center, and Cori Nielson on the court.
Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News

SPRINGVILLE — The basketball teams at Springville High are climbing out of the cellar — gradually.

Both the boys and girls teams are expected to be much improved this season, with both beginning their second seasons under sophomore coaches. The coaching familiarity and a nice mixture of youth and experience on each team have the players and coaches optimistic about getting back to the state playoffs.

The biggest obstacle for the two Red Devils squads seems to be the quality of their opponents. Region 6 is loaded with good teams in both girls and boys basketball. Even though Springville's hoop squads are better, they still face an uphill fight to get over that winning hump. But the chances look more promising this year than they have for many seasons.

BOYS: The Red Devils have shown gradual improvement over the past two years, but it's still a challenge for the coaches to keep the players confident and instill the winning attitude when playing in such a strong region.

The relatively weak preseason schedule should help the team get somewhat accustomed to winning. The coaching staff has also worked extensively on teaching the mental aspects of the game, hoping to build confidence in a fairly young and inexperienced group. Reminding the players that they did beat a talented Provo team last year also helps.

"That game shows our kids that they do have the ability to beat any team if they do the right things," coach Chris Kitchen said.

The Red Devils return only two seniors — guards Brennan Foster and B.J. Smith. Their top player, scoring guard Preston Eaton, is only a junior but was the team's main scoring threat last season. Center Nick Alvey, also a junior, gives the team added strength inside.

"We're taller and we're deeper this year. We'll go nine to 10 players a lot and we have a pretty deep bench this year," Kitchen said. "In a number of positions we're a lot better and in a number of positions we're a lot more inexperienced."

The Red Devils will play a style that favors their speed, quickness and athleticism.

"We have a lot of good athletes who can run up and down the floor, put some defensive pressure on you and shoot the ball," Kitchen said.

While loaded with a host of quality outside shooters and take-it-to-the-hoop guards, the Red Devils will only be as good as their front line. They must have players other than Foster and Eaton scoring, or teams will simply run defenses to pressure Springville's back court.

"We have to have points from our big guys so that it opens things up outside for our shooters," Kitchen said.

GIRLS: Experience could play a key factor in Springville's success on the girls' basketball court this season as the team returns all but one of its varsity players from last year's team. The loss was a big one in team leader Jessica Bradford, but the team is positive about its chances this year.

"We're a more confident team," said Springville coach Jason Beardall. "We have a really positive atmosphere this year. We have a high caliber of girls that are coming back. I believe we've improved over last year."

After a fourth place tie last year in Region 6, the team does have a lot to prove as it comes out to play this season in Region 7. The Red Devils will be led by point guard Nicole Morin, who has a well-rounded game and came back a little bigger and stronger after working hard last summer.

Power forward Cori Nielson also returns to the team as a solid shooting lefty who has a great ability around the basketball and a nose for rebounding. "She's going to step up for us more," said Beardall of the girl he's counting on to lead the team to a solid effort.

The Red Devils' best shooter is Ashley Erekson, who has improved that shot with plenty of hard work in the off-season. And the team will be joined by center Niki Campbell, whom Beardall will count on in the inside.

But the team hopes to avoid a whole lot of half court play as its style will be similar to last years with a lot of pressure defense and quick man-to-man.

"We're going to push the ball a lot and try to get high percentage shots," said Beardall of his athletic squad. "We have high expectations from our team this year. We're coming in high on confidence."

Next: Payson on Thursday

Springville Red Devils: Boys Basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 7

Last season: 6-15, fifth in Region 6

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: Fifth

Head coach: Chris Kitchen, 2nd year

Assistant coaches: Johnny Averett, Scott Hullinger, David Jex

Key returning players: Preston Eaton, 5-foot-10 guard, Jr.; B.J. Smith, 5-foot-11 guard, Sr.; Brennan Foster, 6-foot-1 guard, Sr.; Nick Alvey, 6-foot-6 center, Jr.

Newcomers: Jeremy Baum, 6-foot-4 forward, Jr.; Sean Merkley, 5-foot-10 guard, Jr.; Kurt Averett, 6-foot-3 forward, So.; Ben Doxey, 6-foot-1 guard, So.; Scott Kitchen, 6-foot-4 forward, Jr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 22 — Springville 56, Cedar 44

Dec. 2 — Delta

Dec. 3 — Park City

Dec. 6 — Cyprus

Dec. 9-10 — at Dixie Tourn.

Dec. 14 — Carbon

Dec. 20 — Union

Jan. 3 — Emery

Jan. 4 — Pleasant Grove

Jan. 6 — Timpanogos

Jan. 13 — Lehi

Jan. 20 — Payson

Jan. 24 — Provo

Jan. 27 — Orem

Jan. 31 — Timpview

Feb. 3 — Lehi

Feb. 7 — Payson

Feb. 10 — Provo

Feb. 17 — Orem

Feb. 21 — Timpview

Springville Red Devils: Girls Basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 7

Last season: 8-15, tie for fourth in Region 6

Predicted 2005-06 region finish: Fifth

Head coach: Jason Beardall, 2nd year

Assistant coaches: Chanell Reichner, Gregg Smith

Key returning players: Cori Nielson, 5-foot-11 forward, Sr.; Nicole Morin, 5-foot-7 guard, Sr.; McCall Radford, 5-foot-7 guard, Sr.; Ashley Erekson, 5-foot-9 guard, Jr.; Stephanie Boyer, 5-foot-9 guard/forward, Jr.; Amanda Cole, 6-foot-0 center, Sr.; Lindsey Treasure, 5-foot-7 guard, Sr.

Newcomers: Niki Campbell, 5-foot-11 center, Sr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 29 — Emery

Dec. 1 — Hurricane

Dec. 3 — Snow Canyon

Dec. 6 — Lone Peak

Dec. 8 — Timpanogos

Dec. 14 — Spanish Fork

Dec. 16 — Taylorsville

Dec. 20 — Brighton

Dec. 21 — Wasatch

Jan. 6 — Pleasant Grove

Jan. 10 — Timpview

Jan. 13 — Lehi

Jan. 20 — Payson

Jan. 24 — Provo

Jan. 27 — Orem

Jan. 31 — Timpview

Feb. 3 — Lehi

Feb. 7 — Payson

Feb. 10 — Provo

Feb. 14 — Orem