New Expectations for West Valley TeamsDec 09, 2015 11:54AM ● By Bryan Scott
By Greg James
West Valley - It’s the beginning of a new era in West Valley high school boys basketball.
Gone is the experience and talent of difficult Region 6 opponents (Cyprus) and division one recruits like Noah Togiai (Hunter) and Makol Mawien (Granger), replaced instead by youth, potential and hope for a bright future.
In their second year under head coach Tre Smith, the Cyprus Pirates continue retooling. The return of junior Brooks Marshall, last season’s leading scorer, will help the Pirates continue to rise. Marshall averaged 8.5 points per game last season for the Pirates. He started the 2015 season by scoring 20 points in a victory over Granger 60-56. The Pirates used an explosive fourth quarter to overtake the Lancers for their first win of the season.
The Pirates’ only win last season came against Clearfield in its first region game. Region 6 has had a slight makeover; gone are schools like East, Highland, Bountiful and Woods Cross. Joining the Pirates for this season will be Kearns, Murray, Olympus, Hillcrest, Skyline and Judge.
The season-opening win for the Pirates was followed by two narrow losses, 69-62 to Mountain View and 76-71 at the hands of Cottonwood. Josh Peck has led the Pirates, averaging 16.6 points per game. Sophomore Josh Amasio has 15.0.
The Pirates have averaged 64.3 points per game so far this season. In 2014 they only scored 60 points once.
At Hunter, the Wolverines lost 22.3 points per game with the graduation of Noah Togiai. Replacing those points should be a top priority of second-year head coach Rob Collins. Togiai is now attending Oregon State as a two-sport athlete (football and basketball).
The Wolverines have struggled so far this season, starting with two straight losses. Their opening game was a hard-fought comeback loss at West Jordan 55-54. The Wolverines trailed by as many as 13 points, but a second half surge gave them a chance to win or tie with just seconds remaining, but they fell just short. Senior Jaleel Holdford led them with 21 points.
Hunter is the defending Region 2 champion. They finished last season undefeated (10-0) in their region. Their 53-46 victory over Weber in the first round of the state playoffs was their first playoff victory since the school’s championship in 2004.They lost in the quarter finals to Brighton 65-56.
Hunter and Granger will face new teams in Region 2 this season. Davis, Layton, Syracuse, Viewmont and West join the Wolverines and Lancers.
Granger is trying to make a repeat visit to the state playoffs. Its first-round loss to Davis last season was the team’s first appearance since the 2010-11 season. They finished last season 9-14.
This year some new faces have seen significant playing time. Sophomore forwards Anel Alagic and Jason Murillo lead the Lancers in scoring. Alagic has averaged 14.0 ppg and Murillo has 9. The Lancers will also rely on senior Kevin Lewis to help provide leadership.
In his third year as head coach, Jason Chandler has entered the Lancers in the annual Riverton Holiday Tournament scheduled to begin Monday, Dec. 28. This tournament provides local high school teams an opportunity to play four games in four days without the expensive travel costs. They are scheduled to face Taylorsville in the first game of the tournament.