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Valley Journals

Young Rams basketball gifted with athleticism

Jan 27, 2017 03:43PM ● By Travis Barton

Junior Trayton Keyes (23) leaps for the tip in the Rams’ opening game of the season against Cottonwood High School. (Highland Boys Basketball)

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

 

While the Highland High School boys basketball team may be filled with youth, it may also be the most physically gifted team the Rams have had in some time.

 

“This is probably the most athletic team I’ve ever coached. We’re young, but we are really athletic,” said third-year head coach Jim Boyce.

 

That athletic prowess helped carry the team to a 6-1 record to start the season, but has since tapered off. As of Jan. 26, the Rams were 9-7 (3-2 in region).

 

“We’re progressing, then we hit a bump. We’re progressing and then we hit a bump. For me we need to show a little more consistency, especially in region,” Boyce said.

 

While Boyce stressed being a young team is no excuse, the Rams graduated six seniors from a 2016 team that reached the semifinals of the state tournament.

 

“We’re young, but we’re getting better and still getting to know each other (on the court),” said junior Oscar Maxfield. “We know there’ll be some growing pains that come with this season…but I’m confident in our ability.”

 

For Maxfield, those abilities extend to every aspect of the court noting they have big men with sophomore Caden Hilborn and junior Elijah Shelton, good ball handlers at guard and dangerous shooters in Maxfield and sophomore Liki Makaui.

 

“We have all the tools we need. We just have to find a way to put them together. That’s part of being young but we gotta do it sooner rather than later. It’s go time, it’s region,” Maxfield said.

 

Boyce said that team effort is key for a young group of players.

 

“We’re kind of focusing on contributions from everyone… That helps younger teams to not put as much pressure on one or two guys,” Boyce said. “We want to make sure we have balance and spread everything out equally, you can’t always do that but if you can[LL1] .”

 

In a region filled with quality teams, the Rams primary goal is to reach the playoffs. To do that, Boyce said limiting turnovers and utilizing their strength as a rebounding team emphasized by junior Trayton Keyes’ 14 rebounds against Ogden on Jan. 10.

 

“We need to get more consistent shots and attack the basket. You can’t always control whether it goes in or not but just want the best shot you can get every time you go down the court,” Boyce said.

 

Maxfield leads the team in three-point field goals with 22. He said developing that threat from behind the arc can open space for others like Shelton who leads the team with 11 points per game.

 

“The nice thing about shooting is it’s a threat at all times so it’s hard for the defense to guard, but once they’re out there worrying about me you have penetration for Elijah or Liki to attack the basket,” Maxfield said. 

 

Each season the team will emphasize areas to work on based on the team’s needs. For Boyce, as long as they ascribe to his five pillars — stop transition, force tough shots, rebound, take care of the ball and get a good shot — and his foundations of intensity, improvement and enthusiasm   they can figure out what is the best style of play for the team.

 

“If we can do that, then whatever we do I think we’ll have success,” Boyce said.

 

The Rams next home game will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3 at Highland High School.