Meridian High School
Conference: 5A Southern Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Amos Lee
Years as Head Coach: 3
Previous Experience: 18 years
Record Last Year: 18-7
State Titles: 1980,1981,1982,1983
Mike Franson, Matt Creech, Jared Watson
Who do you have coming back this year?
Angelina Romero (G, 12, 5'4")
Morgan Powers (G, 12, 5'6")
Nicole Winter (G, 12, 5'4")
Ebony Norman (F, 11, 5'10")
Shelbie Martinez (G, 11, 5'5")
Carli Rice (G, 11, 5'8")
Jessica Watson (G, 10, 5'4")
Jordan Sluder (F, 10, 5'1)
Any “Key Players” that you lost from last year?
Mykaela Richards, PG, 4 year varsity player, League leader in lack of turnorvers per game and Freethrow percentage. Holly Blades, G/F, great athletic ability, inside-out ability. Chelsea Hawley, G, versatile ball handler/shooter--shined in pressure situations
Do you have any new incoming “impact” players?
Be heads up of another Tafouu (Jaynee, Forward, Freshman, 5’8”). Like her older sister (Halle Tafouu, 2012), she is very athletic and brings a lot of energy to the game. We have a lot of unknowns. Incoming Freshman class is big and so was last years'--there a lot of young possibilities
Photo By: Jason Duchow - #22 Carli Rice
As a team, what are your offensive strengths?
I am not one to claim that any one player will be our strength. The "team" that plays the best is the one who wins. Being young means we have a lot of offensive growth to develop. Once again, speed and quality motion will determine our success on the offensive side of the floor. Players likely to lead that charge will probably be led by Ebony Norman, but scoring will likely be spread out.
Offensive areas you hope to improve on over last year:
Bringing a better set offense to the table.
Attacking gaps more effectively.
Converting more breaks into lay-ups.
Deeper fundamental skills.
As a team, what are your defensive strengths?
A blazing fast man to man and aggressive pressure that seems to be everywhere on the court is a requirement to play on this team. Our team defense relies heavily on everyone doing their part, no matter where they play. Expect Carli Rice and Angelina Romero to be aggressive guards, but don't be surprised if it looks like they have duplicates on the floor, because Jessica Watson and Shelbie Martinez play the same style. Jordan Sluder and Ebony Norman are threats against any inside force, despite their size.
Defensive Areas you hope to improve on over last year:
We hope to eliminate gaps in the pressure left open when players didn't play the correct roles or tried to do too much. Communication on the floor must be more effective and we must keep points allowed to a smaller percentage. As much as we want a high scoring game, being young often means buckling down the defense.
What are you most excited about in regards to this year’s team?
We return a lot of role players and as a group they want to be a better "team". While this year's team may not be as talented, they have a lot more "heart".
For the fans, what is the must-see game of the year on your schedule?
Eagle and Boise will be two games that we should have a great game with. They are both fairly young, but there is a lot of energy on both. I think the match-ups there will be the most exciting to watch. Eagle at Meridian is also the "Cavalry Clash". It is both a competition between the teams and the schools ASB for pride bragging rights!
What is the ‘X-Factor’ to having success this season as a team?
Buy in. You can't have a team, heart, or pride without knowing what you are all about. If players can buy into the system we have going, we will surprise a lot of teams.
If you could change one rule in high school basketball, what would it be?
I think most coaches would say "shot clock", but I don't think it will affect the game that much. Players these days are already becoming very individualistic and the game has evolved to a much higher pace than it was even 10-15 years ago. Getting a shot off in 25-35 seconds won't change it that much. I would like to see the defensive three in the key added. I think it had a major impact on the way defense could be played at higher levels and I think it would increase the amount of pressure defenses there are out there. The tempo of the game would be increased across the floor and it would continue to elevate the level of the game.
Besides the pay, the fame and the glory, why do you coach high school basketball?
I love the game. I love seeing the application of life skills. The sense that players have taken with them a pride that they have achieved to their potential, and the chance to develop those lifelong bonds is amazing. I was out on New Year's with my wife, Tailee, and a player I coached 15 years earlier came up to tell her how I had helped him become a better person. He never mentioned basketball in the conversation, but he reminded me how much fun it is to see players grow up and how much impact we have on kids even when we don't realize it.
What makes your school the best place to coach for?
There is little to no sense of entitlement at MHS. We get what we earn, and we know that working as a team, we will each achieve more! MHS has a very supportive administration and the coaching staff I have now is very cohesive.