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Draper Journal

Juan Diego Looking for Repeat as Girls Basketball Champs

Mar 09, 2016 11:18AM ● By Ron Bevan

By Ron Bevan |  ro[email protected]

Draper -  As the Juan Diego girls basketball team enters this year’s state basketball tournament, the Soaring Eagle have more than a repeat of last year’s title in mind. The girls on the team want the state to know they weren’t riding the coattails of a talented player last season.

“We had the best player in the state in Monique Mills last year, and behind her we went undefeated right through the 3A state title,” Juan Diego coach Josh Archuleta said. “This year these girls are very excited to prove that it was just the girl who was the 3A MVP. Sure, we had a changing of the guard. But this year’s team is very talented.”

Juan Diego has posted a 14-5 record with one game remaining prior to the state 3A playoffs. Most of the losses came in the preseason when the Soaring Eagle faced a number of larger schools to prepare for regions. The only region loss came Jan. 21, when Juan Diego dropped a 57-48 decision to region nemesis Morgan. The Soaring Eagle exacted revenge Feb. 9, taking a 60-58 victory over the Trojans to move back into first place in the region.

Juan Diego is finding success despite having only three seniors leading the charge.

AnnMarie Nelson and Mia Berenguer have been starters for the past two seasons and return as senior starters to set the tone for Juan Diego. Nelson plays both forward and post, while Berenguer is the point guard.

“Nelson leads our team by example,” Archuleta said. “She is always the first in the gym and the last one out. Berenguer is a great floor general for us. She is good at keeping the girls in line without her crossing the line. She can give another player a look that lets them know to get back in line.”

Haley Falvo is the third senior. Although not a starter, Falvo plays a key role coming off the bench when needed.

“She is a steady shooter,” Archuleta said. “She has been on the team all four years and brings us energy off the bench.”

Juan Diego’s offensive attack centers around perimeter threat Rebecca Curran. The junior guard is averaging almost 17 points per game, including connecting on 38 three -pointers this season.

“She is a bulldog on defense as well,” Archuleta said. “She has a heart for the game.”

Juan Diego plays an up-tempo game for four quarters. The Soaring Eagle try to run traps on every defensive play, then go straight into attack mode when coming down onto the offensive half.

“Our motto is it is either a three-point shot or a layup, nothing in between,” Archuleta said. “That’s how we won the title last year and how we play this year. If it isn’t broke, why change it?”