North Summit girls’ basketball hopes to repeat as region champs
Last year, the North Summit High School girls’ basketball team was missing Ashlin Blonquist for most of the season due to an injury. This year, Blonquist is back and ready to go, but the Braves are going to be without another key contributor.
Forward Hunter Vernon was injured during the volleyball season and won’t be with the basketball squad this year. Still, if the Braves can avoid further injury problems, Coach Jerre Holmes believes they can be a force at the 2A level.
"They’re a good bunch," he said. "We just need to stay healthy. They’re really coachable and seem to get along. They’re eager to get better and they want to do things to make them better. As a coach, you appreciate that."
Holmes is in his first year as the girls’ basketball coach, replacing Ross Pace. This isn’t Holmes’ first go-round as a North Summit coach, though — he spent several years coaching football and boys’ basketball before taking over as the superintendent of the North Summit district.
Holmes said the biggest obstacles for North Summit this year are learning new offensive and defensive schemes. Other than that, Holmes is pleased with the talent level his squad has shown thus far.
"They move well without the ball and they have a pretty good understanding of the game, which helps," he said. "The tough part has been putting new offense and defense in, but they’re fast learners. A lot of the things we need to work on are simply because of a new coach with a new system. What they bring to the table is a good nucleus."
The Braves will need to replace the scoring and leadership of 2015 graduates Kasidee Evans and Haylee McQueen. But, Holmes said, North Summit has several options to fill in.
"We’re going to really count on two junior guards — Madi Birk and Elise Richins," he said. "And Ashlin is back healthy. Those three will play along the perimeter with Mattie Jolley. [In the post] Brena Richins and Janessa Stephens are both coming back with some experience. Rachael Richins is another guard we can bring off the bench and we have Megan Richins in the post. We’re going to be eight and maybe even nine deep."
Though it seems like the Braves have plenty of depth on paper, Holmes is quick to point out North Summit can’t afford more injuries.
"It sounds like we’re deep, but we just don’t want to have another setback," he said. "We’re counting on this group."
Holmes expects Summit Academy to be a force in Region 16, where the Braves went a perfect 10-0 last year. He also said he expects close games from South Summit.
"Any time we play our rival, there’s a chance for anything," he said.
He added that the Braves would rather trade their perfect region record for a better record at the state tournament, where they finished sixth last season.
"We’re more interested in being undefeated at the state tournament than in region play," he said. "I’ve always thought if you get there, you have a chance to win it. This group is no different. Delta is the returning champion and they’ve got some girls back from that team, so they’ll be tough to contend with. We’ve got to get there first, and get there with as good a seed as we can get. Then, it turns into four games of who has a little luck in terms of staying healthy. It’s going to take a little luck with good health, but I think we’re going to be as skilled as anyone there."
North Summit started the season on Tuesday night at Duchesne (after this issue went to press). The Braves play Friday night at Rich. Their home opener is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8, against Emery at 7 p.m.
North Summit Girls’ Basketball Schedule
Dec. 4 — at Rich — 7 p.m.
Dec. 8 — vs. Emery — 7 p.m.
Dec. 10-12 — Preston Idaho Tournament — TBD
Dec. 15 — vs. Carbon — 7 p.m.
Dec. 18 — at Beaver — 2:30 p.m.
Dec. 19 — at North Sevier — 6 p.m.
Jan. 5 — vs. Juab — 7 p.m.
Jan. 7 — at Bear River — 7 p.m.
Jan. 12 — at South Summit — 7 p.m.
Jan. 14 — vs. American Leadership — 7 p.m.
Jan. 19 — at Summit Academy — 7 p.m.
Jan. 21 — vs. Maeser Prep — 7 p.m.
Jan. 26 — at Providence Hall — 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 — vs. Summit Academy — 7 p.m.
Feb. 2 — at American Leadership — 7 p.m.
Feb. 4 — vs. South Summit — 7 p.m.
Feb. 5 — at Morgan — 7 p.m.
Feb. 9 — at Maeser Prep — 7 p.m.
Feb. 11 — vs. Providence Hall — 7 p.m.
Steele DeWald has his life in Park City down to a routine. After some strange encounters in his 20s, he’s OK with the mundane.