The Juan Diego Catholic High School girls basketball team has yet to win a state 3A playoff game in its 15-year history. New coach Josh Archuleta hopes to change that trend beginning this season, and the Soaring Eagle squad have positioned themselves to do just that. Currently, the team is undefeated through 20 games and is ranked first in the state.
“I’m excited going forward,” Archuleta said. “I’m thrilled with the amazing people and facilities here.”
Eighteen of the squad’s wins have been by double-digit margins and they are defeating opponents by an average of 23 points.
Juan Diego is led by twin All-State players Monique and Dominique Mills who average 19 and 18 points respectively. Sophomore Becca Curran scores 9 points a game while junior Ann Nelson puts in 7.
Archuleta, 25, was hired last summer to head up the Soaring Eagle program coming from Judge Memorial where he had been the past five years.
“Coach Arch has an incredible store of basketball knowledge in both breadth and depth,” Juan Diego Athletic Director Chris Long said. “When you watch him coach, the things that jump out are his attention to detail, incredibly positive attitude, and, like all great coaches, he is a teacher.”
Archuleta played basketball for two years at Judge Memorial before taking advantage of a ball boy and internship opportunity with the Utah Jazz as a junior in high school. He worked for the organization for eight years.
“That was a great experience for me,” Archuleta said. “I went to all the Jazz practices and games and, ultimately, that’s why I got into coaching.”
Just prior to the 2010-11 season, Archuleta was hired to return to his alma mater to assist with the girls basketball program.
“I was pulled in to coach the week of tryouts, and we didn’t end up having a great team there, but I learned a lot,” Archuleta said, of his five-year stint coaching the Bulldogs.
He also coaches the Salt Lake Rebels, a girls’ competitive team, and coaches several of the Juan Diego players on that team. Those players were some of his biggest supporters in the hiring process, according to Long.
Archuleta takes a positive approach in his coaching philosophy in which he applies a two-to-one ratio of two positives to one criticism when talking with his players about needed improvements. He also hopes to bring what he learned from the professional level in the sport, along with fundamentals, to the girls program at Juan Diego.
At Juan Diego, Archuleta tries to bring cohesion among all of the girls on the team through service opportunities and monthly activities off the court and has even reached out to bring some formers players back to the squad.
Also on the squad this season are seniors Sarah Christiansen, Erin Stella and Tara Dooley; juniors Hayle Falvo, Mia Berenger and Maddie Colosimo; sophomores Anna Ewionuk, Brynn Drummond, Gina Colosimo, Brie Veltri, Svaya George, Aurora Robles, Bella Sedillo, Madi O’Bryan, Mattea Van De Wiele and Grace Lebrecht; and freshmen Kallie Craig, Abby Shemwell, Katrina Price, Eva Tavake, Bella Holt, Jenna Granja, Cynthia Gardner and Taitlyn Colosimo.
“I’ve inherited a good program, and the talent’s been there year in and year out,” Archuleta said. “Hopefully we can do something with that this year.”
Juan Diego finished the regular season with a game against Uintah. The state tournament is scheduled for Feb. 26-28 at the Maverik Center.