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The City Journals

Brighton girls basketball starting season with new head coach at the helm

Dec 06, 2018 02:56PM ● By Josh McFadden

The Bengals defeat Hillcrest during a game last season. This year’s team begins with new coach. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

Competing against the likes of girls basketball powers Corner Canyon and Timpview is never easy. This season, Brighton will attempt to do so with a new coach in charge of the program.

Cameron Wood comes to Brighton from Ogden’s St. Joseph’s Catholic High School. He brings nine years’ coaching experience to a team that placed fourth in Region 7 last season with a 4-6 record. The Bengals were 9-11 overall. 

Wood’s first impressions of the team were positive, especially when it comes to the cohesion and unity of the group. 

“I was surprised how much the girls care about each other,” Wood said. “There’s genuine appreciation on and off the court. The attitude is the best and most energetic and cohesive I’ve had in nine years of coaching.”

Wood said the girls have bought into his philosophy and approach and have meshed well together. He hopes to instill a defensive-centric mindset to the game.

“We’re going to have a tough-nosed approach on defense,” he said. “We’re going to have defensive pride.”

Last season, the Bengals allowed just 46.5 points per game and only surrendered 60 or more points in a contest four times. Offensively, Woods hopes for more production. The Bengals struggled at times to score, as they tallied a per-game average of 44.3 points. 

“We need to build a identity of the girls competing and that all of the girls are accountable,” he said. “Everyone fulfills a role.”

Anabelle Warner is the only returning starter on what Wood acknowledges is a young team. He said the senior is a “great leader and works hard.” She has great energy and work ethic. She averaged five points a game a year ago.

Nicky Vyfvinkel, a junior, saw a little bit of court time last season. She will expand her duties this season. Sophomore Lily Cheatam is poised for a big year. 

“(Vyfvinkel) is a great athlete and a good competitor you can rely on,” Wood said. “(Cheatam) will surprise some people. She’s far ahead in maturity and ability.”

In year one at Brighton, Wood has high expectations, despite his team’s inexperience and the daunting challenges ahead.

“Our goal is to compete for region,” he said. “We want to strive to get better and grow and build the program. We want to grow successful people. Athletics are a great tool for life growth.”

The Bengals opened up at Kearns on Nov. 20 (after our press deadline). Brighton then hosts Hillcrest and Hunter on Nov. 28 and 29, respectively. The first Region 7 game is Jan. 8 at Alta. Brighton must finish in the top four of the six-team region to once again qualify for the playoffs. Last season, Brighton lost to East in the first round. The last time the Bengals won a postseason game was in 2015 when it advanced to the state quarterfinals. 

“The girls have a desire to get better,” Wood said. “As coaches, we want to make sure we’re there for the girls in all facets.”