Dave Jeffs, Daniel Hockersmith, Goose Kallunki and Jake Robison are members of the Orem High basketball team.

Editor's note: This is another in a series previewing Utah

County basketball teams.

OREM — The past few seasons have been a roller-coaster ride for the Orem Tigers' two basketball teams.

The girls team was very strong the past two seasons, winning a state title one year and reaching the championship game the next. This season, however, the Tiger girls are in a rebuilding mode and have plenty of uncertainty.

The boys team had its rebuilding year last season and will send an experienced team onto the court this year — a squad that should be as good as any in 4A basketball.

Regardless of what mode the Orem teams are in, they always seem to be competitive. Both coaches are expecting nothing different this season.

Boys: The Tigers boys basketball team has an optimistic approach to this season, but the going could be a little rough early on. Orem's early schedule, by design, is brutal — with seven quality 5A teams on the docket. But coach Mike Conner believes the Tigers need to play the

best to become the best.

"We don't have anybody on our schedule that we can look at and say it's a win," Conner said. "But we need to test ourselves in the preseason because we play in such a good league with such good teams."

But you won't find many feeling sorry for the Tigers, considering the number of experienced players coming back. Two starters and five other players are returning with varsity experience. Three seniors — Goose Kallunki, Daniel Hockersmith and Jake Robison — should get considerable minutes. The versatile Kallunki, the play-making Hockersmith and junior sharpshooter Jake Green should do most of the scoring.

"We're kind of mixing youth with experience, some good shooters and some pretty good size," Conner said. "And these kids really like playing together. We played close to 60 games in the summer. We got whipped a few times, but we got way better as the summer went on and by the end of the summer we were a very good basketball team."

The Tigers also have three huge threats inside with the 6-foot-6 Robison, 6-foot-10 junior center Ian Harward and 6-foot-11 senior newcomer David Jeffs. Throw in defensive stoppers Tucker Lamb and Steve Warner, and the scrappy Jordan Egbert, and the Tigers appear to have all of the elements of a good team.

"Our strength, no doubt in my mind, is going to be rebounding the basketball. We're a good team at rebounding the basketball, and I think our defense is going to be pretty good," Conner said.

Last year, because of Orem's youth and lack of experience, the Tigers were very successful at slowing games down. This season, with an experienced team and more scorers on the floor, the Tigers will likely speed it up.

"This year we're probably going to turn it loose a little bit more. We think we have pretty good athletes that can run, and we go pretty deep," Conner said.

Girls: With only one returning starter off a team that went seven deep last season, the Orem Tigers are breaking in an almost entirely new lineup this year in an extremely difficult league.

Though they've done well in the early-going, this year could be a tough one for the inexperienced seniors on the squad. The new seven-woman team is made of six seniors and a single junior, much like last year's squad, lacking in experience.

And that one returning starter, Brianne Larsen, will be playing with a stress fracture in the early part of the season.

"She's going to have to take it slow. She was in a boot until a couple of weeks ago," said Orem coach Ross Reed, who led the team to the state title two years ago and a runner-up trophy last year.

"We're as good as she is healthy. The more she's on the floor, the better chance we have to be a success," said Reed about the solid athlete, who's signed to play soccer at UVSC.

Another soccer star will man a spot at the wing for the team as 4A soccer MVP Kaitlyn Thomas joins the starting lineup this season after seeing very limited action last year.

"As she gets a little time on the court, she's gaining in confidence," said Reed, who still has a goal to make the state tournament despite the team's personnel losses.

He noted that his team's style is yet to be seen, though overall, he's not too sure of the team's speed. Therefore, he believes the Tigers will run a controlled tempo and run when the opportunity presents itself unlike the preferences of most of the other teams in the valley.

The Orem post will be manned by volleyball superstar Emily Julian, who rebounds well around the hoop and will help the team plenty in the post. However, that is the entire compass of the Tigers' height.

"We don't have any more monsters out there," said Reed, whose team had 6-foot-5 Jamie Sagers running the inside for three years.

Regan Bailey will also help out as yet another player who saw limited court time last year.


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Boys basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 7

Last season: 11-11, tied for second in Region 7

Predicted 2007-08 region finish: Second

Head coach: Mike Conner, eighth year

Assistant coaches: Derek Dawes, Reggie Rhees, Mark Sitterude, Adam Wardenburg

Key returning players: Daniel Hockersmith, 6-foot-2 guard, Sr.; Jake Robison, 6-foot-6 forward, Sr.; Jordan Egbert, 6-foot-5 forward/center, Jr.: Steve Warner, 6-foot-2 guard/forward, Jr.; Tucker Lamb, 5-foot-10 guard, Sr.; Goose Kallunki, 6-foot-5 forward, Sr.

Newcomers: Ian Harward, 6-foot-10 center, Jr.; David Jeffs, 6-foot-11 center, Sr.; Jake Green, 6-foot guard, Jr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 30 - Elko

Dec. 1 - Davis

Dec. 7 - Timpanogos

Dec. 8 - American Fork (at UVSC)

Dec. 12 - Box Elder

Dec. 18 - Viewmont

Dec. 27 - Riverton

Dec. 28 - at Logan Tournament

Dec. 29 - at Logan Tournament

Jan. 4 - Tooele

Jan. 8 - Timpview

Jan. 11 - Provo

Jan. 15 - Springville

Jan. 18 - Payson

Jan. 22 - Mountain View

Jan. 29 - Tooele

Feb. 1 - Timpview

Feb. 5 - Provo

Feb. 7 - Springville

Feb. 12 - Payson

Feb. 15 - Mountain View

Girls basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 7

Last season: 19-6, First in Region 7, state runner-up

Predicted 2007-08 region finish: Fifth

Head coach: Ross Reed, Fourth year

Assistant coaches: Jamie Nebeker, Sam Bates

Key returning players: Brianne Larsen, 5-foot-5 guard, Sr.; Kaitlyn Thomas, 5-foot-8 forward/guard, Sr.; Regan Bailey, 5-foot-11 forward/center, Sr.

Newcomers: Virginia Voeks, 5-foot-8 guard/forward, Sr.; Emily Julian, 6-foot-2 center, Sr., Aly Tucker, 5-foot-4 guard, Sr.; Angie Helsten, 5-foot-8 guard/forward, Jr.

Schedule (home games in bold)

Nov. 27 - Orem 44 Lehi 32

Nov. 29 - Snow Canyon

Dec. 6 - Mountain Crest

Dec. 8 - Box Elder

Dec. 11 - Olympus

Dec. 14 - Pleasant Grove

Dec. 18 - Timpanogos

Jan. 4 - Tooele

Jan. 8 - Timpview

Jan. 11 - Provo

Jan. 15 - Springville

Jan. 18 - Payson

Jan. 22 - Mountain View

Jan. 29 - Tooele

Feb. 1 - Timpview

Feb. 5 - Provo

Feb. 7 - Springville

Feb. 12 - Payson

Feb. 14 - Mountain View