For Carbon High Head Coach Jeff Cisneros, the motto is simple. To be named among the best in 3A, you must play against the best.
That's exactly what the Carbon High boys basketball team will be facing on a regular basis throughout the early part of the season as Cisneros is looking to get a squad with plenty of returning experience on the fast track to success.
In their season opener, the Dinos traveled north to take on American Fork in a game that pitted the 3A Dinos against the much bigger 5A Cavemen. American Fork used its size down low as they defeated the Dinos 66-48 last Tuesday night.
Cisneros said the American Fork front consisted of a group of players over 6'8" that were much taller than Carbon High's starting center, senior Derek Young, who is 6'4".
"They were taller than us and they used that to their advantage," Cisneros said. He said while the Dinos faced a height difference, they were able to use their speed and quickness to their advantage.
While the Dinos were able to play even with American Fork in the second half, Cisneros said the Dinos' performance at the free throw line (13-for-26, 50 percent) and from the field (17-for-49, 35 percent) were the difference between making it a game and losing by 18.
"We rushed some of our shots," he said. "If we made a few more it would have been a game down the stretch."
Dakota Cisneros led the Dinos with team-high 14 points. Young added 11 points and five rebounds.
Despite the loss, Cisneros was pleased his team was able to show some bright spots in playing against a top level 5A team.
"We feel if we can get out and run and play within our abilities, we can play with anybody," Cisneros explained.
Cisneros has plenty of good reasons for lining up a tough non-conference schedule for the Dinos. The Deseret News named the Dinos as the team to beat in Region 12 play.
With three returning starters, including seniors Cisneros, Young and Jordan Blanc, and a bench with plenty of youth and potential, Cisneros said he is hopeful that the schedule will help the Dinos grow quickly as a team.
The Dinos (0-1) will have no time to rest as they return home to host Union High tonight at 7 p.m. at the Carbon High Gymnasium. After the game against Union, the Dinos will then travel to Tremonton for the Bear River Classic this weekend where they will play three games in three days against tough competition.
"It will be a tough week for us as there are no easy games on the schedule," he said.