Baylee Heap secures a rebound during a recent Corner Canyon girls basketball practice. The sophomore center has scored 46 points in the first 13 games.
It’s been a long two years of building the girls’ basketball program at Corner Canyon High School. The second season has already posted success when compared to the first year.
After failing to find a single victory in its inaugural year, Corner Canyon began the 2014-15 campaign with a 5-2 run through the first portion of the preseason.
“Last year was tough, but I think it helped us begin building the foundation for our program,” girls basketball coach Megan Leach said. “Now, the girls are beginning to understand our coaching philosophies and where we are going. This year is another step along the way, but the girls are already beginning to buy into the program.”
But the great start fell off the tracks as the girls approached the start of region play. Seven straight losses have put the Chargers at the bottom of the region.
Still, the girls are looking to each other and playing like they can be in any game.
“Our losses don’t reflect how the girls are playing,” Leach said. “We are a gutsy team, and we can only get better. We can play with any team in the region.”
Corner Canyon has four seniors on the team this season, compared to just one in its first year. But although two seniors are main starters and a third starts in certain situations, the Chargers are still a young team compared to the rest of the region.
“The core of our eight- or nine-player rotation consists of freshmen and sophomores,” Leach said.
Senior starters include captains Madi Mekkelson and Shelby Evans. Mekkelson, a 5’2” guard plays stronger than her height suggests.
“She is a great leader of our team,” Leach said of Mekkelson. “She leads by example. She works harder than any other player and goes all out on every play in practice and games.”
Evans is the team’s leading scorer with an eight point per game average. The 5’10” shooting guard has tallied 104 points in 13 games, and has knocked down 21 three pointers.
“Evans has a very nice outside touch on the ball,” Leach said.
Kassie Parker is another senior with some starting roles this season. Leach uses Parker as a defensive stopper.
“Parker is our best defender,” Leach said. “We like to put her on the other team’s best player. She is quick and tough.”
Miley Pupunu is the final senior on the team. It is her first season as a Charger, having moved into the area from Idaho.
“We have transitioned Pupunu into a post player this year,” Leach said. “She has stepped into the role very well.”
Leach has two freshmen and a sophomore in regular starting roles, showing once again the youth of the team. Freshmen Nicole Critchfield starts in a guard position and Hannah Sanderson starts inside.
“Critchfield is the most naturally athletic girl I have seen in a long time,” Leach said. “Sanderson is a great learner and is handling the inside part of our game very well.”
Sanderson is the second leading scorer for the Chargers.
Sophomore Jordyn Hancock rounds out the starting five. Although one of the youngsters on the team, she helps bring along the other players.
“Hancock understands the game better than some of the other players,” Leach said. “She helps us coach the other girls and get them coming into the program.”