Buhl High School
Conference: 3A Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Dan Winn
Years as Head Coach: 5th season
Previous Experience: Head Coach at Castleford High School (2 years), Buhl Assistant
Record Last Year: 24-1
State Titles: 1975, 1979, 2014
Photo By: Steve Conner - 2013-14 State Champions
Written by: Sven Alskog
Last March the Buhl Indians took home their third boys basketball state title in school history, the first since 1979 under Terry Adolfson.
This edition of the Indians held on to a 57-56 victory over a strong Homedale team, utilizing the talents of the now graduated Kade Crossland, who led them in points, rebounds and 3-pointers made while also hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer in the state championship game.
Losing the 21.2 points, 7.6 rebounds per game and leaderships abilities will be a tough task for Buhl, but one they appear to be capable of accomplishing.
“He was instrumental in our first state championship in 35 years, and is one of the best players to ever play for Buhl,” said Head Coach Dan Winn. “However, we return four starters from a championship team and a total of ten players who played in the state tournament.”
Winn is excited about the players he has coming back this season.
“Junior Hayden Eckert is in his third year running our team as a point guard and is becoming a complete playmaker who can score or find his teammates for open shots. Junior Michael Lively will patrol the paint for us and will be needed to score, rebound and defend. Senior Matt DeKruyf is a star in his role, attacking the basket, defending, rebounding and hitting the open shot,” said the coach.
Senior Ryan Loveless and junior Tegon Tonge were mentioned as players who can be expected to see increased minutes in new roles this season.
“We honestly feel we have a ten man rotation,” said Winn. “It will be a battle in practice for game minutes. This will be the deepest team we’ve had in recent memory.”
Just like years past, fans and opposing teams can expect to see the up-tempo nature of Buhl basketball, with Winn stating that this could be an even faster team than last year. On the other side of things, the Indians will be primarily a man-to-man defensive unit.
“We want to ‘rebound and run’ to get good opportunities in our fastbreak,” added Winn. “We shoot a lot of 3-pointers, but we don’t want to rely on them as our main offensive weapon. In our half-court offense we preach ball movement to create an advantage that allows our players to shine. We hunt points in the paint and wide open looks from the 3-point line.”
The chemistry of this unit also stands out to its coach.
“Our players know each well and continue to build a way of life on and off the court together. They have faced adversity together and trust each other to work through it,” he said.
Having such a deep team will benefit the Indians in many ways.
“We have several shooters, rim attackers and inside players,” said Winn. “We should be able to score, even if a player is having an off-night. We will have more depth, both in athleticism and skills, than we’ve had in the past.”
The loss of Kasey Crossland to a season-ending injury suffered during a state football playoff game against Shelley will be a tough one to replace for Winn and his coaching staff, however Buhl does have plenty of pieces in place to try to bring the squad back to state.
With so much talent having returned to Buhl this season, expect the Indians to again challenge for a state title out of the 3A classification.