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Corner Canyon girls basketball staying focused on court

Feb 01, 2018 10:50AM ● Published by Catherine Garrett

Junior forward Jaeden Vaifanua is leading the 16-1 Chargers in rebounding while being the second leading scorer. (Photo/Lesa Bowen)

Gallery: girls basketball [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

The Corner Canyon High School girls basketball team qualified for the state tournament for the first time in school history last winter, losing to Box Elder 69-62, and began the 2017–18 season with eyes again focused on goals to carry them to the postseason. The Chargers began the year with a seven-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 441 to 298, and after a 63-47 loss to Copper Hills in its own Winter Classic Dec. 16, the squad has won the last six games, five of them by double-digit margins.

“There are endless highlights thus far as we reach the goals we set on a daily basis in practice and games,” head coach Jeramy Acker said. “There are quite a few things which I have worked extensively on personally, and I am extremely proud of the girls in executing their individual and collective roles in realizing the vision I had for this season last spring.”

The 16-1 squad has been led by “the best players in their given positions in the state,” according to Acker, in junior captain Kemery Martin, a point guard who averages more than 21 points and five rebounds a game, and junior captain Jaeden Vaifanua who adds 18 points and nearly nine boards a game as a power forward. 

Acker also noted the key contributions of his other starters — senior point guard Annie Bowen, senior Nicole Critchfield and senior captain Hannah Sanderson, who average another 14 points and nearly 12 rebounds between them. “Integrating the special talents of Kemery and Jaeden with our other key contributing players has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my coaching career thus far,” Acker said. “With that said, we rely on our bench extensively in practice and games to be prepared and ready to fill various roles we ask of our players on a daily basis,” Acker said.

Also on the squad this season are seniors Alyssa Crow, Andi Humble and Ashlyn Bird; juniors Megan Astle, Alexandra Wright, Livi Redden and Marissa Wicherski; sophomore Abby Kleinman; and freshman Baylee Bodily.

“I am a consummate coach, so I continually notice the areas which we can improve on and those things which still need to be addressed,” Acker said. “So, there is always room for improvement. With that being said, it’s exciting to be a part of this team as we pursue our individual and team goals.”

In its second game of the season, Corner Canyon played at the Vivint Smart Home Arena and dominated Syracuse in a 68-28 win Dec. 1. Another highlight of the season, according to Acker, was a 65-64 overtime victory against Mountain View, one of the top teams in the state. In hosting its Winter Classic, Corner Canyon also faced three top 6A teams and came away with two wins — against Taylorsville 64-33 Dec. 14 and over Riverton 62-36 Dec. 15 — and its only loss of the year to Copper Hills.

“We have been working on sharing the ball and competing at our highest level,” Acker said. “Seeing the girls share the ball and take charge recently has given me great comfort knowing how dedicated each of the players are to the team philosophy we emphasize daily.”

Acker is assisted on the coaching staff by Heather Humble, Christie Duke, Brian Vaifanua, Lexi Gagon, Andie Nicholes and Brian Rhay with team managers Hannah Knoop, Maddie Moushey, Cara Chambers and Cora Butler.

Corner Canyon has also defeated Hillcrest, Pleasant Grove, Maple Mountain, Layton, Woods Cross, Box Elder, American Fork, Jordan and Brighton so far this season. 

Acker said the keys to winning this year have been “having great players which play with heart, effort and dedication to their teammates and the philosophy we are emphasizing within the program.” 

“A total and complete buy-in to the style and philosophy we are trying to utilize is a challenge on almost any team,” Acker said. “The success we have experienced thus far in large part is a direct testament to the leadership of our seniors throughout the last three seasons and the leadership qualities of our current team captains.”

The focus the rest of the season for Corner Canyon will be on individual and team improvement each day. “If we can do this individually and collectively as a team, we believe we will be right where we want to be at the end of the season competitively,” Acker said. 

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