At a school known more for its baseball and softball teams, basketball takes a back seat at Taylorsville High School. But success on the diamond breeds confident athletes whose skills and abilities can successfully make the transfer to the basketball court. So even though the basketball teams at Taylorsville are made up of athletes who count baseball and softball as their primary sport, the Warriors are favorably represented in the gym.

The boys look to improve on the six wins from last year and the girls — who notched a 15-7 record last year — will have a tough time moving up from a second-place region finish last year with Skyline still looming as the favorite there.

GIRLS: Fun is the watchword for Jace Hymas' Warrior girls who are not pleased with their 2-4 start but are by no means down in the mouth.

"They are the most fun group I have ever worked with," said Hymas. An 11-year veteran at the helm, he obviously likes this group despite a less than stellar start. He is used to fielding top-tier teams in the league and has placed in the top three slots qualifying for state since 2000.

"We don't have any heroes or stars, we need to play as a unit to be successful," he said.

Hymas knows this year's team can still get there.

"We have only been out of one game this year," he said.

Region play has yet to begin and his "softball star-laden team" is poised to make a run at the title. Tia Palauni is the senior point guard who has already signed a letter to play softball at Utah.

"She is the heart and soul of our team," said Hymas.

Heather Gardner is not only a softball player but runs cross country and track.

"It is nice to have a greyhound on the team," said Hymas, "who doesn't mind running."

But she only plays basketball as a pastime, according to Hymas.

If Hymas had the personnel, he would pressure with a full-court defense.

"But I don't have the ponies," he said.

Depth is not a strength of his team. But he does have another softball player who comes off the bench. Marqui Gray has signed with Salt Lake Community College.

Marisha Black is the leading scorer and is a senior who is starting for the first time at center. Katee Balmforth is a 5-2 "spitfire" guard.

"She loves to shoot," says Hymas. "She is shooting as soon as she gets off the bus."

Hymas says his only true basketball player is Athena Mauga, who is a third-year starter as a junior.

"She is super athletic," he said. "Her mind needs to catch up with her ability."

BOYS: It's been a rough start for the Warriors and coach Ron Burnside says the problem has been not being able to hit foul shots. They were 7-for-30 in one game.

Burnside says his kids are continuing to work hard and he thinks they will come together before the start of region play. He is high on his point guard, Jeff Pratt, a 5-10 senior who leads the team in scoring at about 17 points per game.

"He can put the ball in the hole," said Burnside. "The kid has some hops too."

The coach said that one of Pratt's favorite moves is to pull up and shoot when driving and his jumping ability can propel him over almost any defender, thus providing him with clear shots.

Another player the coach likes is Tibor Tadic. Burnside knew Tadic when they were both at Granite and the coach says that Tadic was the last player to play at Granite. Burnside also says, "He is our best offensive and defensive rebounder. He goes and gets the stuff off the glass."

At the center position, Jordan Edgintons' 6-5 frame fills the middle but Burnside says he feels bad he can't play him outside more. "He can shoot the three," says Burnside, "center is not his true position."

Josh Bain is the Warriors' toughest defender.

"He is a very good role player," Burnside said.

Burnside hopes his kids can turn the corner before region begins, but he warns, "they need to learn how to win the close ones."


Taylorsville Warriors basketball preview

BOYS

Class: 5A

League: Region 2

Last season: 6-15

Predicted 2007-08 Region 6 finish: Sixth

Coach: Ron Burnside

Key returning players: Jeff Pratt, 5-10 point guard, Sr.; Josh Bain, 6-3 forward, Sr.; Tibor Tadic, forward, Sr.; Jordan Edginton, 6-5 center, Jr.

Schedule

Nov. 20 — Cottonwood 55, Taylorsville 52 (OT)

Nov. 27 — Cyprus 63, Taylorsville 59

Nov. 30 — Judge Memorial 66, Taylorsville 63

Dec. 4 — Taylorsville 64, Hunter 57

Dec. 7 — Copper Hills 46, Taylorsville 39

Dec. 11 — Granger 66, Taylorsville 60

Dec. 14 — Murray 58, Taylorsville 55

Dec. 18 — Riverton 68, Taylorsville 55

Dec. 21 — Taylorsville 63, Layton 46

Jan. 4 — Taylorsville at Kearns, 7 p.m.

Jan. 8 — Taylorsville at West Jordan, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 — Jordan at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 — Hillcrest at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 — Taylorsville at Brighton, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 — Taylorsville at Skyline, 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 — Alta at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 — Taylorsville at Jordan, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 — Taylorsville at Hillcrest, 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Brighton at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Feb. 15 — Skyline at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Feb. 19 — Taylorsville at Alta, 7 p.m.

GIRLS

Class: 5A

League: Region 2

Last season: 15-7

Predicted 2007-08 Region 6 finish: Second

Coach: Ron Burnside

Key returning players: Tia Palauni, point guard, Sr.; Marisha Black, 6-0 center, Sr.; Katee Balmforth, 5-2 guard, Sr.; Heather Gardner, Sr.; Marqui Gray, Sr.; Athena Mauga, 5-11 forward, Jr.

Schedule

Nov. 20 — Fremont 69, Taylorsville 44

Nov. 28 — Springville 51, Taylorsville 39

Nov. 30 — Taylorsville 49, Clearfield 41

Dec. 4 — Taylorsville 55, Timpanogos 40

Dec. 5 — Mountain View 42, Taylorsville 29

Dec. 7 — Kearns 41, Taylorsville 34

Dec. 13 — Taylorsville 50, Davis 48 (OT)

Dec. 17 — Woods Cross 40, Taylorsville 38

Dec. 19 — Taylorsville 58, Spanish Fork 47

Dec. 28 — Hunter at Taylorsville, 1 p.m.

Jan. 4 — Taylorsville at Copper Hills, 7 p.m.

Jan. 9 — Alta at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 — Taylorsville at Jordan, 7 p.m.

Jan. 16 — Taylorsville at Hillcrest, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 — Brighton at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 — Skyline at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Jan. 30 — Taylorsville at Alta, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 — Jordan at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Feb. 6 — Hillcrest at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Taylorsville at Brighton, 7 p.m.

Feb. 13 — Taylorsville at Skyline, 7 p.m.


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