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SEASON PREVIEW: Falcon girls hoops in top group again

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With four returning starters from last season’s 6A state runner-up squad, the Skyridge girls basketball team was selected No. 2 behind defending champion Lone Peak in the coaches preseason poll. Slam dunk, right?

Well, not quite. The team’s two leading scorers last year are among those four players, but both are rehabbing from ACL injuries and probably won’t be available until January. “Our challenge this year will be finding the right combinations of players before and after they return,” said Coach Shaylee Nielsen.

The headliner in the group is senior guard Cambree Blackham. The 5-foot-7 combo guard is a four-year starter who averaged 15.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game last season and has been the sparkplug of the Falcon offense.

The other injured player is 5-8 junior guard Bella Sika, who averaged 8.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest. Replacing their production will be a tall order, but if the other players can find a way to do it, Skyridge will be an even more formidable team when they return.

In the meantime, the program’s fortunes will rest in the hands of three capable returners with plenty of experience. Senior Shae Toole is a 5-6 guard who averaged 7.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season.

Still just a sophomore, 6-0 forward Ellah Oeser averaged 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds and led the team in blocks with 16. Junior 6-1 guard Merceius Mili averaged 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game with 10 blocks.

“We are excited to see contributions from Sadie Buttars (Sr. 6-0 F), Payton Newbold (Sr. 5-6 G), Jada Smith (Sr. 5-5 G), Kyah Perkins (So. 5-9 G), Lilly Meyer (Jr. 5-7 G), and Portia Hugh(Jr. 5-6 G),” Nielsen said.

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“We have a tough schedule this year,” the coach continued. “We always try to schedule great teams to help us get better and to prepare us to compete at the highest level. We’re looking forward to some good competition in the preseason.”

The Falcons will open their slate Nov. 28 when they welcome Fremont for a 7 p.m. home contest. They will visit Bingham Nov. 30, also at 7 p.m. One new wrinkle this year will be a double bill with teams from Raymond, Alberta, Canada, to be played back-to-back with the boys on Jan. 5.

League play begins Jan. 12 at Westlake. This season the girls varsity will play at 6 p.m. with the boys to immediately follow. 

“Region 3 is always highly competitive,” Nielsen said. “Lone Peak will be the team to beat in Region 3 and in the state once again. I expect every team in our region will be tough and will compete night in and night out.

“There are some new coaches in our region that I think are going to do a great job and continue taking their programs in the right direction,” she added.

“Syracuse and Davis both return a lot of players from last year’sstate tournament teams. I also think Copper Hills, Bingham and Mountain Ridge will be contenders as well. Class 6A should be a lot of fun this year and we are excited to compete,” the coach concluded.

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