Drive the lane

Gilbert sophomore Haley Cavinder is a big reason why Gilbert is 13-2.

Kyle Pedersen admitted it was a little odd to have to address what should come naturally with the Gilbert girls basketball team.

They took the time to discuss how players should react to a teammate after they take a free throw shot and how the bench should react to a made basketball.

“(Teaching that aspect) was new to me,” he said, “but they are doing a great job with it.”

It was the continuation of changing the culture and creating good chemistry for the program since he took over last season when he inherited a junior-laden roster but the key components were three sisters – the Cavinders.

“Chemistry is night and day compared to last season,” he said. “Last year we were extremely focused on chemistry because we basically had two separate groups coming together.”

The Tigers went on to go 19-11 before losing to eventual state champion Hamilton in the state quarterfinals.

Gilbert is off to a fantastic 13-2 start and have the look of a Final Four squad. The Tigers have tightened up the details of their defense and the offensive flow has the team scoring 58.9 points a game.

Pedersen credits the new chemistry as much as anything after making a point of teaching the girls how to go about congratulating teammates.

“This summer we sat down and talked about what is to be a good teammate,” he said. “It was the basics - What to do on the court, what do after each free throw? What do you do on the bench after we make a shot? We had to practice that kind of stuff.”

The team entered this week undefeated against Arizona competition behind the play of sophomore twins Hanna (16.1, 5.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists) and Haley (17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 3.1 steals) Cavinder, Tiffany Hurd (6.6 points, 11.3 rebounds), Stacy Hock (7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Shayla Huskey (6.9 points, 5.3 rebounds).

“It’s a good start and we have played well, but it’s a tough region schedule,” Pedersen said of the 6A Central. “We have a lot of tough games ahead of us.”

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or

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