Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News
Provo boys basketball guards, from left, Clark Thornton, Adam Law, Scott Edwards and Kyle Collinsworth. It's an experienced team.

PROVO — It doesn't seem to matter who is wearing the uniforms, there just doesn't seem to be a down year in Provo High basketball.

Despite having some young players and plenty of new faces, the Provo boys and girls basketball teams are both expected to again challenge for region and state titles. They're again both expected to be competitive by having balanced teams and players who have developed in the program by buying into Provo's strong basketball tradition. Young players at Provo traditionally never play like they're lacking in poise or experience, and that should again be the case this season.

Boys: Some might think that since the Bulldogs lost seven players from last year's championship but senior-laden team, including one of the top players in the state, that they'd be dropping down a notch in talent this season. Anyone who thinks that is going to be surprised in a hurry.

"I don't think we're going to surprise any coaches, but from reading the papers, I think we might surprise some sports writers," coach Craig Drury said.

Just because only one starter returns doesn't mean this year's version of the Bulldogs won't be as competitive as past Provo teams. In fact, Drury again has a senior-laden team comprised mainly of players who are already bursting with confidence and playing like seasoned veterans.

"We're used to success here," Drury said. "A bad year for us is maybe a good year for other programs. I don't mean that to sound arrogant or disrespectful to other programs, but this is Provo High basketball. When kids get to be seniors here, they expect to win."

The Bulldogs again have few weaknesses, if any. Drury has guards who can shoot, handle the ball, pass and defend. He has big men who can score in the paint, rebound and defend. Provo should again be very effective at dictating tempo with a tenacious and pesky defense that forces opponents to shoot over players with a hand in their face.

"Our defense is what slows the game down; it's not our offense. Give me the rebound, and watch me go," Drury said.

One key element to Provo's defense is off-guard Scott Edwards, who Drury says is one of the best, if not the best, defensive guard in the state.

"Any time you anchor a defense with a good defensive guard like Scott Edwards, we will be a good defensive team. Whether we'll be a great defensive team is whether the other guys join in or not," he said.

Edwards joins Adam Law, Chris Sorensen and Kyle Collinsworth on a guard line that should be as good as any around.

"It's as good as I've ever had at Provo High School, and I think that says quite a bit," Drury

The solid backcourt, combined with the inside punch of big center Brandon Davies, give the Bulldogs an extremely potent and balanced attack.

"When you have a good guard line and bigs who can finish, you're going to have balanced scoring because those guys will get in the paint and find shooters and find the bigs, and that's what makes a good guard line what it is," Drury said.

One question mark for Provo might come in the rebounding department. But Drury is not too worried considering he has big guards who are good at helping out on the boards.

"You never know who is going to step up and rebound and stop the other team from scoring. But it's something we need because allowing the other team to get a cheap chip-shot rebound basket is one sure way to waste a good defensive stop," he said.

Girls: Though the Bulldogs lost three starters last season, they return plenty of experience, and they are heralded throughout not only their region but also the state as one of the teams to beat.

Provo coach Cory Green prefers to take the back roads and not listen to the hype because he just doesn't tend to believe it. Yes, he knows his team could be good and could contend for a region championship, but it will take a little luck in terms of a lack of injuries and a lot of control from his players in terms of foul trouble.

His team is similar to that of Orem's last year in as much as it goes seven deep. Those seven are solid players, but the rest of the team is inexperienced and perhaps not quite ready for varsity action this season.

"Depth is a huge challenge. This year we'll have to be in better shape to play the game we want to play," said Green.

Despite the lack of depth, Green says his team will be pushing the tempo and pace both offensively and defensively. And the Bulldogs will rely heavily on point guard Vanna Cox to run the team. She's always been speedy and stingy on the defensive end, but this year she's been working on her shot and is effective inside 15 feet, so Green is hoping she'll be more of a scoring threat.

Sophomore Ashley Kuchar has a year of seasoning under her belt and will provide most of the Provo offense this season.

"She's a great all-around player, she's all-everything, inside, outside, a good passer, a good ball handler. She had a true breakout season as a freshman," said Green about his newest star.

A couple of tough guards and a pair of post threats round out the Provo lineup, and some solid rebounding, defense and athleticism will follow.

Provo is used to having a tough defense, and with some improved shooting from both the field and the line, the team should be able to put up points this year as well.

The Bulldogs will be battling with last year's state champs and cross-town rival in Timpview for the league title, but coaches in the league all say the top spot is the T-Birds' to lose, sliding the Bulldogs into second.

Provo Bulldogs: Boys basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 7

Last season: 14-10, second in Region 7, state champions

Predicted 2007-08 region finish: First

Head coach: Craig Drury, 25th year

Assistant coaches: Jared Casper, James McVoy, Kelli Lobendahn, Kenny Hardy, Don Johnson

Key returning players: Scott Edwards, 6-foot-3 guard, Sr.; Adam Law, 6-foot guard, Sr.; Brandon Davies, 6-foot-8 center, Jr.

Newcomers: William Isom, 6-foot-6 center, Sr.; Kyle Collinsworth, 6-foot-4 guard, So.; Chris Sorensen, 6-foot-3 guard, Sr.; Kyson Koop, 6-foot-2 guard,, Sr.; Christian Foerster, 6-foot-7 center, Sr.; C. J. Thornton, 5-foot-11 guard, Sr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 20 — Provo 64, Lone Peak 62

Nov. 30 — Pleasant Grove

Dec. 7 — Lehi

Dec. 12 — American Fork

Dec. 14 — Timpanogos

Dec. 20 — Spanish Fork

Dec. 27 — Phoenix Tournament

Dec. 28 — Phoenix Tournament

Dec. 29 — Phoenix Tournament

Jan. 4 — Payson

Jan. 8 — Mountain View

Jan. 11 — Orem

Jan. 15 — Tooele

Jan. 18 — Timpview

Jan. 25 — Springville

Jan. 29 — Payson

Feb. 1 — Mountain View

Feb. 5 — Orem

Feb. 7 — Tooele

Feb. 20 — Timpview

Provo Bulldogs: Girls basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 7

Last season: 15-7, Third in Region 7

Predicted 2007-08 region finish: Second

Head coach: Cory Green, 5th year

Assistant coaches: Lance Moore, Andra Trammell, Cecile Greene

Key returning players: Karissa Bosco, 5-foot-7 guard, Sr.; Sepi Ika, 5-foot-7 guard, Jr.; Sara Heaton, 6-foot-0 center, Sr.; Vanna Cox, 5-foot-5 guard, Sr.; Ethline Fa'atoafe, 5-foot-7 guard, Sr.; Ashley Kuchar, 5-foot-7 guard, So.; Kelsie Nelson, 6-foot-0 center, Jr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 20 — Provo 53, Pleasant Grove 50

Nov. 27 — Murray

Nov. 30 — Lehi

Dec. 6 — Dixie

Dec. 7 — Snow Canyon

Dec. 8 — Pine View

Dec. 11 — Spanish Fork

Dec. 14 — Olympus

Jan. 2 — Springville

Jan. 4 — Payson

Jan. 8 — Mountain View

Jan. 11 — Orem

Jan. 15 — Tooele

Jan. 18 — Timpview

Jan. 25 — Springville

Jan. 29 — Payson

Jan. 31 — Mountain View

Feb. 5 — Orem

Feb. 7 — Tooele

Feb. 12 — Timpview

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