U-Prep’s basketball program wouldn’t be considered the top Shasta County squad if it didn’t have an experienced lineup.
But sometimes you need a ring master that orchestrates the offense, sets the tone on defense and is the unspoken, no-doubt leader that elevates everyone’s game.
Tanner Stephens is that guy for the Panthers and the preseason No. 3 returner in the SCS Player Rankings scored in double figures in both U-Prep victories last week to earn Shasta County Sports Player of the Week honors.
In Wednesday’s opener against a powerhouse in Pleasant Valley, a three-time Northern Section champion in the past four years, Stephens scored 10 points on 5 of 9 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and dished two assists in the 58-51 win. It was a statement game for the Panthers and Stephens’ poise and experience contributed to the victory.
“They were keying on him and didn’t want him to score and he didn’t force many shots and took advantage of the limited number of scoring opportunities he had,” said his father and coach Mark Stephens.
Stephens paced the Panthers on the following night’s win 74-45 win over Anderson with 19 points, two rebounds and two steals.
U-Prep is back in action at home Thursday against West Valley at 7:30 p.m.