Bouncing back |

Bouncing back

Jen Watkins, Of the Record staff

Although the girls’ basketball team finished the season last year with a record of 1-18, Park City High School coach Sam White felt it was a successful year. After losing five players, four of them starters, at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, White said he knew they were going to have a rough year. Three sophomores stepped up to the challenge and, with very little experience, helped fill those starting positions. He said the girls improved greatly from beginning to end and, this year, White expects to turn things around.

"Now they’re juniors and they’re playing really well," he said. "We did what we could with what we had."

White is a second-year head coach who played for the Miners before graduating in 2003. He went on to BYU where he was a practice, playing against the women’s basketball team at the request of coach Jeff Judkins. He hosted several basketball camps at BYU and student-taught at Springville where he helped coach the freshman team. White is now a PE teacher at PCHS.

He said his goal with the girls’ team this year is to teach them to be more physical. During practices, he stands on the court with a football pad. While practicing rebounding skills or screen picks, the girls have to push him out of the way while he holds the football pad.

"It’s like running into a bigger player who’s tougher," he said. "If (the girls) practice against each other, everybody gets a little soft."

He said the girls have shown a lot of improvement in practice.

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"I’m really proud of them," he said. "They’re hustling really well. We’ve gone to a new mind set. Since we’re not super tall, everyone on our team is going to be a great dribbler. They’ve done a really good job of picking up their ball-handling skills."

Despite those improvements, the girls’ lost their first game 80-34 at Juan Diego on Nov. 24. However, White said he was pleased with how the team performed, improving with each quarter and scoring nearly half its points in the fourth.

"We were definitely outmatched (but) we learned a lot and we’re going to get better," he said. "Juan Diego had two very tall and strong players (but) we are very fast. I thought the girls did an excellent job of keeping that conditioning up."

White said the Miners did a good job of pressuring the Soaring Eagles and forced several turnovers in the fourth quarter.

"They did a good job of getting their hands up and intercepting the ball when they could, or deflecting passes," he said. "Juan Diego couldn’t get everything they wanted."

Miners’ (xxxxx point guard?-ill check roster) Laurel Cassell (will check rosterxxxx) was the leading scorer for both teams with 21 points and three 3-pointers.

White said he expected the girls to be nervous during the first game.

"You’re playing against each other every day so you don’t really know how much you match up against other teams in the state," he said. "We figured out we have a lot more to learn before the next game."

He said the team will work on cutting, getting open, rebounding and coming to the ball. The Miners will play at East High School on Dec. 1 and at Ben Lomond on Dec. 3.