Bear Lake High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Brandon Carlsen
Years as Head Coach: 7th season
State Titles: 1996
Written by: Sven Alskog
After a 15-9 season in 2013-2014 the new year should bring plenty of promise again inside the gym in Montpelier.
A change in classification will make things a little different.
In the 3A classification last year Bear Lake found difficulty getting past the Snake River Panthers, falling to their league counterparts on all three occasions.
Fortunately for the Bears they won’t have to worry about the Panthers anymore as Bear Lake has dropped down to the 2A Southeast Idaho Conference for all sports this academic year.
That is a scary thought for schools in 2A with Bear Lake boasting one of the better interior presences in the state in 6’9” center Ryan Gundersen.
The big man for the Bears will have a good height advantage against nearly every player he goes against again this year, giving Head Coach Brandon Carlsen a luxury not many coaches have.
Kasey Keetch has graduated and his loss will created a hole that needs to be filled in the backcourt, as the sparkplug was one of the key pieces to the squad last season.
Theron Wallentine and Daymon Shaul will be expected to help mitigate the loss by filling the basket on one end and playing tight defense on the other.
Both received plenty of playing time last season and should be ready to step into their new roles alongside Gundersen.
In the last couple of years Bear Lake has had great success in the regular season, struggling come district tournament time.
The Bears will be looking to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2012 in the new campaign. During that trip the squad was able to win two games, knocking off St. Maries and Filer.
With the drop down to the 2A classification some new teams will jump on the radar as challengers in league play.
In the matchups against some of those schools last season Bear Lake only lost once, a 51-48 nail-biter on the road against Malad.
Perhaps most impressive was knocking off perennial power Soda Springs on both occasions. The Cardinal were a state tournament team out of district five last year under Head Coach Sheldon Vaughan.
Carlsen expects his group to have a good chance to compete within the conference this year.
“We have work to do but [we are] excited for this year cause we have a group that plays hard and plays well together,” stated the coach.