BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL – To say Viewmont boys’ basketball coach Jeff Emery is excited to be back in Region 1 this season is an understatement.
He’s excited for both his own players and for the communities in the region as well.
“When we were in Region 2, I think it was a little uncomfortable for us as players, coaches, and even the community,” he said. “It’s a better fit to be back in this region, for us as a team and for the communities involved. I think it will help us be more competitive because there’s so much depth in Region 1 from top to bottom.”
The Vikings, who were 13-11 overall last season, will bring with them some tough lessons learned from being in Region 2 as well. Although they lost to only two teams (Kearns and Hunter) in region play, they finished 6-4 and were eliminated from the 5A playoffs in the quarterfinals.
“The biggest thing they took from last season’s play was the consistency factor,” he said. “You can’t play great one night, then have a not-so-good night and expect to keep winning. There were cases where we didn’t match up well, and we got off to a rocky start in the beginning.”
He admits, however, that having a handful of returning players with varsity experience will help the team.
“If we’re mentally tough and more consistent, we will have a successful season,” he said.
Several familiar names will be back on the floor once the season starts for the Vikings. McKay Johnson, who played the point guard position last year, will be looked at to play “just about everywhere” he can this season.
At six-feet, four-inches tall, Johnson “was a pleasant surprise” last season when his play improved in the latter parts of 2012, according to Emery.
McKay Butler is another starter who will be back this season. He will likely play at a guard position and shoots the ball very well.
Aaron Dalton, another six-foot, four-inch player, makes the transition from the football field to the basketball court, and is a “physical, tough player who can stretch the floor very well.”
“He’s not your typical post player,” said Emery. “But he’s got a lot of talent.”
Kelton Hirsch, who won an individual state title in golf this season, will also be part of the Vikings this year.
Hirsch is expected to start at point guard this season.
Austin Johnson will round out the five starters this season. Johnson will serve as a wing-type player, Emery said.
A couple key players that will come off the bench are Matt Stringham and Jake Walker.
Stringham “has lots of energy and will be a spark coming off the bench,” and Walker was praised as a “good perimeter shooter,” Emery said.
All in all, Emery is excited to bring the group back for the 2013-2014 campaign.
“We’re going to play some teams that have size, so we’ll have to be creative when playing those teams,” he said. “We got guys that are good shooters and can run the floor. I expect us to be competitive, and I think we can do some special things.”
Vikings 2013-2014 schedule
11-26 @ Clearfield
12-11 @ Woods Cross
12-17 @ American Fork
12-19, 20, 21 @ Red Rocks Rumble Tournament (Dixie State)
1-3 @ Lone Peak
1-10 @ Fremont
1-14 @ Northridge
1-28 @ Weber
2-14 @ Davis
2-18 @ Layton
2-26 @ Syracuse
3-4 to 3-8 @ State 5A Tournament (University of Utah)