Payette High School
Conference: 3A Snake River Valley Conference
Head Coach: Bob Dixon
Years as Head Coach: 12th season
Record Last Year: 6-15
Written by: Chris Langrill
Basketball is supposed to be a team sport.
But it wasn't always that way for the Payette boys last season. The Pirates' play essentially revolved around one player: Zane Allen.
Allen averaged 16 points, five assists and three rebounds on his way to being named a First Team All-Conference player.
And Payette coach Bob Dixon said Allen will be a serious contender for the 4A Southern Idaho Conference player of the year this season.
But Dixon hopes there is a major difference between this season and last year's campaign, when the team finished 6-15: He wants Allen to have more help on the court.
“I told the guys this summer, 'I know how many games we can win with one guy, and that number is six. That's what we got last year. There's your plus or minus,'” Dixon said.
Dixon's hope is that Allen won't have to do it all again this season.
“This year's going to be a different story,” said Dixon, who will be in his 12th season of coaching the Payette boys. “I've got a bunch of juniors who are going to fill in the gaps … and this will be the deepest team I've had in, well, certainly the last three years.”
Don't get Dixon wrong, though. Allen will be the team leader again this season.
“Zane is going to have the ball in his hands as much as we can,” he said. “But he's going to get a lot of attention and hopefully other guys can take advantage of that. They'll have to step up.”
And going into the early stages of the season, Dixon is confident other players will do just that.
“We'll be able to go fairly deep in the bench and have some rotation and give Zane some help,” he said.
One of those players who will provide some help is Luis Nunez.
“Without a doubt, he's the best 5-foot-10 post in the league,” Dixon said. “He played against guys who were 6-foot-10, 6-foot-8, 6-foot-6 last year, and he did a good job against them defensively. … He kind of does all the dirty work.”
Tanner Grant, a senior wing, is another returning starter.
With that foundation, Dixon hopes his team battles like it did last season.
“We were 6-15, but we were a competitive team,” he said. “We were outmanned, but we hung in there … because of our defense.
“That's the one thing I liked about them: They had that demeanor that said, 'We're going to compete,'” Dixon said.
“This year, we're going to have that same mentality, but we've got some talent to go with that.”
So, yes, the Pirates hope to be a team this year. But that doesn't mean fans – and other teams – won't be keying in on Allen.
“He can shoot it and he's just lightning fast and makes good decisions,” Dixon said. “He's just a natural baller.”