The Lady Broncos are breaking in a new coach with a familiar face, Justin Moon. Saying, “I need a break after 20 years of back-to-back-to-back seasons,” long time coach Monty Lee turned the reins over to Moon.
Moon brings an excellent resume to coaching, including several successful years at Whitehorse High School, coaching the Lady Raiders to the state championship game a few years ago.
After coaching at Whitehorse, Moon moved to San Juan to assist his wife, Cassy Moon, with the volleyball team and steps in this year to take over Lady Bronco Basketball.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your team this year. What experience do you have returning?
A: The team this year is young as far as experience goes. Heather Meyer (junior) is the only returning starter from last year’s team. Last year’s team graduated a lot of talent and experience. Loni Savage and Chelby Hunt did see some varsity time last year also.
We have added a couple of new players this year. Alicia Hatathle (junior) moved from Whitehorse. Cherise Tegan (junior) moved to us from Tooele and Jessica Bergeman (sophomore) moved from Emery County.
The rest of the varsity team will be made up of seniors; Karyssa Balch and Elle Haws. Juniors are Shaylee Grover, Kimber Mitchell, Nicole Black and freshman Kelsi Meyer. The juniors, sophmores and freshmen on varsity will see time with the JV team as well as sophmores Janane Lansing, Brooke Bowring, Brittany James and Lohanna Benally. Our C team will be made of the sophomores mentioned on the JV team and Freshmen Katie Hiatt, Erika Grover, Makenzie Adams, and Chante Sherrow.
Q: What will be your team strengths this year?
A: Our team strengths this year will be how little is really known about this group. They haven’t been scouted too heavily because they have been playing mainly JV and C team for the last couple of years. That is also a strength. This team has played together quite a bit, except for Heather, Cherise, Alicia and Jessica. This will be the deepest team that San Juan has had for a couple of years. All twelve girls that are on the varsity team will see a lot of playing time.
Q: Who will be your go-to players?
A: I am hoping that games will be complete team efforts so we can avoid putting too much pressure on one or two of the girls.
Q: Who are your top defensive and offensive players?
A: I don’t know that we have any one top offensive or defensive player. The style of offense and defense we are running this year focuses on everyone contributing on both ends. If you tied me down and bribed me with some pizza I could come up with a couple of players I expect to lead us offensively and defensively. Offense would be Loni Savage, Heather Meyer, Chelby Hunt, Kimber Mitchell, Cherise Tegan, Shaylee Grover. Defense would be Elle Haws, Nicole Black, Alicia Hatathle, Karyssa Balch, Kelsi Meyer, Jessica Bergeman.
Q: Who is ready to have a break-out, surprise everyone season?
A: I think that entire team is going to have a break out year. Our goal is to shock the 2A world.
Q: What kind of basketball will you play?
A: We are going to continue to be defensive minded. Coach Lee did an awesome job teaching the girls how to play defense. We will have a couple different looks both defensively and offensively than we have had in the past.
Q: Best case scenario, how do you see this team doing?
A: Best case scenario this team could place top 5 this year. We will have to avoid the injury bug that we are going through right now though.
Q: Who are your assistant coaches?
A: My assistant coaches this year are Gus Sopena, Sasha Bitsuie, Bri and Shay Holliday. Gus has coached before he moved to Blanding and was an assistant last year at ARL middle school. This is Sasha, Bri and Shay’s first experience coaching. All three of the girls played basketball for 4 years at San Juan, and they all have a great understanding of the direction we want to go.
Q: What is a best method you use in practice and in games to build the team concept in basketball?
A: Our team must believe in the team concept for us to succeed. Our offense and defense rely on all the girls being able to play all the positions. So at practice the girls all practice all positions. The girls have accepted the fact that I don’t like just one player being the main gun. In my previous coaching experiences it wasn’t uncommon for me to change the starting line-up almost every game. It wasn’t uncommon to have a different girl lead us in scoring every night. I haven’t had the same girls in practice be on the same teams during scrimmages either.
Q: What is a must see game this season?
A: Must see games I think will be San Juan vs Monticello (those games are always exciting, Dec 11 in Monticello and Dec 20 in Blanding), San Juan vs Gunnison (Jan 12) and Manti (Jan 11).