Kylie Butler

Desert Vista junior guard Kylie Butler will be heavily counted on this season for the Thunder after averaging 12.3 points last season.

AFN File

The girls basketball season is under way with a whole new look.

There are no more classes, exchanged for divisions, and the postseason tournament has been expanded to 24 across the board with sectional tournaments qualifying 12 of those qualifiers.

Double checking, but the basket still stands at 10 feet high.

Most coaches seem to be fine with the new format as it offers a semblance of a second chance for teams like Desert Vista, who snuck into the postseason last year after winning the final two games of the regular season, but was knocked out by third-seeded Mountain View.

This year the Thunder is expecting much more behind a solid core of players who struggled through last year at 12-16.

Expectations are much higher this go around with Jaymee Bruggman, Kylie Butler, Emily Wolph and Tinisha Toussaint leading the way.

"We have all of our key players returning," Thunder coach Rachel Proudfoot said. "We will play with speed and selflessness."

The 6-foot-1 senior forward/center Bruggman (15.7 points, 9.5 rebounds) was dominant at stretches last year and will only be stronger, while Toussaint, a Weber State recruit, will help on the block.

Butler, a junior guard, is a scoring threat who should be even better this year after averaging 12.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.7 assists, and Wolph will be more comfortable in her second year at the varsity level after she took over the point guard spot and averaged 8.9 points, 3.6 assists, 2.4 steals and 2.7 rebounds.

The Thunder, now in Division I, Section III, instead of Class 5A Division I, should get back to coach Rachel Proudfoot's two first years when they averaged 19 wins a year.

Mountain Pointe is in the same section as Desert Vista, and are coming off a more positive season after winning region and going 20-7 with a young roster.

The Pride's schedule wasn't as tough as this year's ledger so a lesser win-loss record wouldn't be surprising, despite playing better with more experienced players.

"We have real high expectations," said Pride coach Trevor Neider, who has a 45-11 record in three years running the program. "We had a good summer and want to carry that into the season. Our goal is advancing in the playoffs (after losing in the first round as a 10th seed).

The expectations start with sophomore post player Kaylah Lupoe, who was a first-team all-region pick as a freshman after averaging 9.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a game.

She will be backed by a pair of guards in sophomore Maddy Sulka, the team's top shooter, who averaged 7.5 points, and junior Caitlyn Hetrick, who was a second-team all-region pick after pouring 9.2 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Other players who should be heavily counted on are senior Myesha McGhee, who sat out last season after transferring from Red Mountain, and senior post Hannah Sharpe, who averaged 5.9 rebounds a year ago.

Neider pointed to the team's depth, attitude and work ethic as team strengths.

Horizon Honors, which is in Division III, Section II, need to build depth or it might have trouble matching last season's success of making the postseason and finishing with a winning record for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Coach Nate Agostini has seen the highs and lows of the program, leading them to a 108-82 record in eight years, and will have to work this roster.

The top player back is guard Gina Garvey, who averaged 9.8 points last year as she made 70 3-pointers.

Guard play will be the team's strength, but the Eagles will be at a disadvantage down on the block as the tallest player on the roster is 5-foot-7.

Promising newcomers are point guards Samantha Weeman and Rachel Irons, and along with Garvey, should make Horizon Honors a quality shooting team.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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