Third year Granger head coach sees team’s promise
Mar 06, 2019 02:25PM
● By Greg James
Granger’s 5-foot-9 senior Oseola Pauni has averaged 7.7 points per game this season. She scored a season high 24 against Ogden in December. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
On Jan. 8, the Granger Lancers grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the final seconds of a hard-fought win over its crosstown rival, Hunter. Their bruises and sweaty faces suggested the implications and importance of the victory.
“I am so proud of them,” Lancer head coach Shawnee Smith said. “Everything in this game went the way we had been working on it. In this game, it finally clicked.”
The Lancers trailed heading into the fourth quarter by two. They scored 24 points while holding the Wolverines to only eight in the final stanza to pull out the win.
Junior Nani Lemaveve scored 17 and Oseola Pauni 13 in the game. Smith was excited with the team's effort.
“We have some amazing physical ability and for us to finally get it going has been great,” she said. “We have been working on playing under pressure, especially in big games like against Hunter. Sometimes we get bogged down. Little things that might normally hurt us did not tonight.”
Lemaveve is averaging 6.8 points per game. She had a season high 19 points against Cottonwood and has scored in double figures six times this season.
“Lemaveve is a young player experience-wise and is only going to get better,” Smith said.
This is Smith’s third year as head coach at Granger. She had served as an assistant to Aaron Cousins at the school before taking the top position.
“I was told that in your third year as coach I would finally see things start to come together and this year has been great,” she said. “We have had great leadership that have worked really hard. These girls have been with us through their whole careers. The older girls are teaching the younger girls the game and what is expected in our program. Our seniors have all been great role players. They do the little things that help us improve.”
The Lancers began the season with a rousing 22 point victory over the Ben Lomond Scots. They never trailed in the contest and led by as many as 21 points in the first half, but after their initial win they lost four straight before earning victories over Cottonwood and Park City. They finished their preseason schedule with a 3-5 record.
Senior Kaelijah Sligar is the team’s leading scorer with 10.8 points per game. Sligar scored a season high 21 against Davis in December.
“She (Sligar) transferred in from New Mexico and plays point guard for us. She has stepped in and played pressure role for us. She is not a natural point guard either. She is phenomenal,” Smith said. “We have some other players that have really settled in for us. When we concentrate we can really be unstoppable.”
Smith said the off-court activities of the team have been exemplary.
“I am really proud of these kids. In my first years we struggled keeping girls eligible. This year they have really worked hard in the classroom. They have great character and are very passionate. They have gotten to know each other and are very strong,” she said.
Granger competes in Region 2 against Kearns, Hunter, Cyprus and Hillcrest.
“It is great to build rivalries with schools close by. I like playing in our region now because these schools have similar demographics. The kids get into it and our fans have really gotten behind us,” said Smith.
In region contests they have a 3-6 record (at press deadline) and stand in fourth place in Region 2. They have clinched a spot in the Utah High School Activities Association girls state tournament. State was scheduled to begin Feb. 18 at Salt Lake Community College.