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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Young Titans eager to get girls basketball season going

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Taygin DeHart takes a shot in a game last season against Murray. DeHart returns for her junior season ready to help lead her team to the state tournament. (Photo/ Ellis Hunsaker)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]    

Coming off a 6-16 campaign and a sixth-place finish in Region 6, the Olympus girls basketball team has room to improve. The team is eager to show their development and be a factor in the region race. 

The Titans will put a youthful lineup on the floor when they open the season Nov. 21 at home against Maple Mountain. Olympus also plays at Taylorsville Nov. 28 and hosts Stansbury Nov. 30 to close out November. 

The Titans’ 2017–18 edition has just one senior and brings back key junior guards Kayli O’Brien and Taygin DeHart. Head coach Whitney Hunsaker will look to both for leadership and solid play on the court. 

“(O’Brien) is a great outside shooter, great leader and has been playing varsity for three years,” Hunsaker said. “(DeHart) is a great driver, solid defender, great leader and has also been playing varsity for three years.”

Hunsaker will lean heavily on O’Brien’s and DeHart’s experience, especially on a team with so many young players and new starters getting accustomed to the offensive and defensive systems. Even with the many changes and roster turnover, Hunsaker is looking forward to seeing her new players get accustomed to the team and come together. 

“I’m excited to watch this team grow and develop,” Hunsaker said. “With only having one senior, I am just excited to see where we end up and how much progression happens throughout the season. Also, I’m really excited with the group we have. We have a group that is committed — a group that wants to work hard and wants to get better. I am excited to go to practice and just absorb the energy that is in the gym. I’m really just excited to see these girls become successful.”

Qualifying for the state tournament may be more within reach this season, even with a young squad. With region realignments, thanks to the addition of Class 6A, Olympus moves up to Class 5A but stays in Region 6. This year, the region has six teams instead of seven, meaning the Titans only have to beat out two opponents for a spot in the postseason. Hunsaker isn’t necessarily looking at this season as a playoffs-or-bust campaign. Instead, she simply wants to see her team progress from game to game. She believes results will take care of themselves if her players work hard and make strides in their individual and team play.

“My expectations would be to see improvement after each game,” she said. “We are a very young team, so really, there is a lot of room to progress. I expect us to grow, develop, learn as the season progresses. I am excited to see the growth.”

Though the Titans are young, Hunsaker said the camaraderie has been amazing. Each player has a positive outlook and right mindset to help the team become successful.

“The girls are contagious,” Hunsaker said. “They are so excited to work and so excited to contribute. They are already starting to build great relationships with each other. They hold each other accountable, and they push themselves and their teammates to their best.”