The West High boys and girls basketball teams hope last season's fortunes will extend to this season's riches.

Each squad contains a mix of experience and talent coaches Bob Lyman and Ronnie Stubbs say will vault them into Region 6 contention.

"We're capable of a lot of things," said Stubbs, while Lyman observes his team has "a lot of potential."

For the second consecutive year, the girls were 10-11 overall and 8-6 for third place in the region, while the 16-7 boys were also 8-6 and fourth in the league. Both Panther lineups lost in the first round of the state tournament but hope their camaraderie and team chemistry will give them another chance.

Stubbs likes his chances so much that he thinks some players may be capable of playing up a level. "I haven't had any go on to play (in) college, but in this (group), there may be a couple."

Lyman, who's coached at West for four years, also coached the team from 1985-93. Stubbs begins his third year with the Panthers.

"We're a great defensive team, along with our transition offense," he said. "They're my team. It's a very fun group of girls. They've been great girls since I've been here."

BOYS: Because "I think the region is very strong," predicts Lyman, "I don't think one team will run away with it. It's very strong top to bottom."

The boys team includes 5-foot-9 returning senior starting point guard Erik Gallardo and juniors in 6-6 center-forward Ricardo Saldana and 6-5 forward Daniel Wray. Others are 6-3 senior combo guard Scott Floisand and 6-4 junior forward Chris Barnes. Juniors 6-2 swingman Isaiah Christy and 6-2 shooting guard T.J. Jackson and 6-1 sophomore switching-guard Gabe Burroughs are each in their first varsity years .

Tyrell Corbin, a 5-7 freshman point guard, is the son of Utah Jazz assistant coach and former player Tyrone Corbin.

"We could be very good," said Lyman. "It depends on how fast we bring (players) along."

His swagger seems built upon his past coaching success and improvement of the team during his current tenure.

Former Panther point guard Reggie Chambers has left the program to live in Florida.

Lyman is assisted by Gilbert Maestes, a former West all-stater in 1987, the last year the Panthers won region, and East High grad Brett Beckstead.

Improvement, according to Lyman, can be more than just being on the floor. It can also mean the integration of transfer players, he said.

Transfers Burroughs and Saldana "wanted out of New York City," the coach said. They felt "West High is the best fit (in Salt Lake) to anything" there. "They were living in Manhattan. They wanted the diversity, programs and opportunities of academic programs" offered at West. "It was a very strong attraction (to attend high school) in downtown Salt Lake."

GIRLS: The West girls return a bevy of five seniors in what the coach calls his most experienced team. Fusi Lutui, a first team all-state and all-region 5-9 power forward, is joined by 5-9 swingman Fesi Vaisigano and 5-4 point guard Krystal Mascarenas.

Lutui's forte is rebounding, while Vaisigano is "flat-out defensive," Stubbs said.

Two-guard Lindsey Brinton, who is 5-8, "is an excellent 3-point shooter" averaging about 40 percent in attempts, said Stubbs. Five-foot-two Valerie Perez, who sometimes starts at the point, has critical experience "very, very important" to the Panthers, the coach emphasized.

He added junior Ashley Quarles, 5-5, can play either guard with her quickness and work ethic. Amy Christensen is a 6-0 junior who can play either forward, who he said "is improving so much in all areas — shooting, rebounding and blocked shots — a lot."

His assistant is Highland graduate Megan Nielson.

HISTORY: During the mid-1970s, West seemed to be the place to be, as the Panthers were among the state's elite in football and boys basketball. In 1975, the Panthers romped through the football schedule to finish 12-0, win the state crown and were nationally ranked by Scholastic Magazine.

During former coach Gean Plaga's first state championship in 1973, he was named both National and Utah coach of the year and coached a state all-star team.

The banner year of 1975 was also the last time West won the 4A state basketball championship. Lyman, a 1974 West graduate, played for then-coach Mark Godfrey and was an assistant coach during the 1975 season when the Panthers won the state's only mythical title on a last-second shot by guard Scott Runia.

"It was the 'golden age' of West sports," remembers Lyman. "There was a lot of excitement in Rose Park."

There may be again.


West Panthers boys basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 6

Last season: 16-7, 8-6 (fourth Region 6), lost in first round

Predicted 2007-08 region finish: Fourth

Coach: Bob Lyman

Key returning players: Erik Gallardo, 5-9, PG; Daniel Wray, 6-5, F; Scott Floisand, 6-3, G; Chris Barnes, 6-4, F.

Newcomers: Isaiah Christy, 6-2, G/F; T.J. Jackson, 6-2, G; Gabe Burroughs, 6-1, G; Tyrell Corbin, 5-7, G; Ricardo Saldana, 6-6, F/C

Boys schedule

Nov. 21 — Logan 64, West 60 (OT)

Nov. 30 — Kearns 66, West 64

Dec. 7 — West at Hunter, 7 p.m.

Dec. 11 — Lehi at West, 7 p.m.

Dec. 14 — West at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.

Dec. 18 — West at Clearfield, 7 p.m.

Dec. 21 — Tooele at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 2 — West at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.

Jan. 4 — Murray at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 8 — East at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 — West at Cyprus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 — Olympus at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 — West at Highland, 7 p.m.

Jan. 22 — Granger at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 — Cottonwood at West, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 — West at Murray, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 — West at East, 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Cyprus at West, 7 p.m.

Feb. 12 — West at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Feb. 15 — Highland at West, 7 p.m.

Feb. 19 — West at Granger, 7 p.m.

West Panthers girls basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 6

Last season: 10-11, 8-6 (third in Region 6), lost in first round

Predicted 2007-08 region finish: Third

Coach: Ronnie Stubbs

Key returning players: Fusi Lutui, 5-9, F; Fesi Vaisigano, 5-9, G/F; Krystal Mascarenas, 5-4, G; Lindsey Brinton, 5-8, G; Valerie Perez, 5-2, G

Newcomers: Ashley Quarles, 5-5, G; Amy Christensen, 6-0, F

Girls schedule

Nov. 21 — Springville 64, West 58

Nov. 29 — West 42, Copper Hills 41

Dec. 4 — Payson 58, West 52

Dec. 12 — Northridge at West, 7 p.m.

Dec. 20 — Judge Memorial at West, 7 p.m.

Dec. 28 — West at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.

Jan. 2 — West at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.

Jan. 4 — Murray at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 8 — East at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 — West at Cyprus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 — Olympus at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 — West at Highland, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 22 — West at Granger, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 — Cottonwood at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 — Granger at West, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 — West at Murray, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 — West at East, 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Cyprus at West, 7 p.m.

Feb. 12 — West at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Feb. 14 — Highland at West, 7 p.m.