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South Valley Riverton Journal

Ready to defend region title, Mountain Ridge girls basketball set for season

Dec 01, 2023 11:15AM ● By Josh McFadden

The defending region champion Mountain Ridge girls basketball team has some new faces and some skilled returners. (Photo by L1quid Studios)

Last season, the Mountain Ridge girls basketball team was pretty good. Despite losing some key players from the previous year, the Sentinels think they can be even better in 2023–24. 

Mountain Ridge shared the Region 3 championship last season, going 8-2. The Sentinels were 19-6 overall and advanced to the Class 6A state quarterfinals where they lost to Fremont. Expectations are high going into this season. 

“We are very excited for the 2023–2024 season,” head coach Kenzie Newton said. “The girls have been working hard and have a great chemistry. We believe this team has a high ceiling, and our goal is to be better today than we were yesterday.”

A trio of Sentinels, in particular, will lead the team this season. Sophomore forward Jessica Maynard, sophomore guard Jada Jangard and sophomore guard Kya Newton have experience, and each player brings something different to the court. They also play well together. 

“These three have a great chemistry and played a key role in our team’s success last season,” Kenzsie Newton said. “We hope their experience will help their teammates play with confidence and reach their full potential. We are a young group but very talented and can be pushed to be great.”

Kya Newton is the leading returning scorer. She averaged 10.4 points per game last year as a freshman. She also contributed 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game in 2022–23. Maynard chipped in 4.2 points per game a year ago, while Jangard scored just under two points a game and hauled down 2.6 rebounds an outing last season. Kenzie Newton expects each player to do even more this season. 

Kenzie Newton also wants to see good camaraderie and positive communication on the court. 

“A big emphasis for our team this year is to focus on celebrating each other,” she said. “By doing this, we feel our goals are attainable and something to build upon each day. The chemistry of this group is a big part of our strength. These girls are driven and some of the hardest workers I've ever been around. It is going to be a lot of fun.”

Mountain Ridge likes to run a lot and push the ball up the court. The Sentinels averaged 58 points per game last season. Defense is something Kenzie Newton thinks the team can focus on, too.

“We also are looking to play at a fast tempo and put a big emphasis on the defensive end,” she said.

Mountain Ridge will have a lot of new faces this season. Without a lot of varsity experience on the court, the early part of the campaign could have some struggles. But Kenzie Newton and her players are eager to see what they are made of. 

“We do lack varsity experience,” Kenzie Newton said. “Early on, we will face the challenges of these girls adjusting to the pace and physicality of the varsity level. With that being said, these girls are excited for this challenge.”

Mountain Ridge hosted Lehi Nov. 16 to open the season. The Sentinels will play a large slate of nonregion games in November and December before jumping into Region 2 action Jan. 11 at home against rival Herriman. 

Kenzie Newton can’t wait to get started and see how this group of girls responds to defending their region title. 

“I love the passion this group shares for the game of basketball,” she said. “I also love the way they compete and push each other. They also celebrate each other and have a team first mindset. We are excited for the season and to see what this team can accomplish.” λ