Nezperce High School
Conference: 1AD2 Whitepine League
Classification: 1A D2
Head Coach: Scott Branson
Years as Head Coach: 1st season
Previous Experience: Two years
Record Last Year: 13-8
State Titles: 2011, 2013
Mitchell Scott, Tracy Neely
The Indians return six players from last year's 13-8 squad -- Morgan Neely, Ryan Heideman, Jerry Fischer, Nathan Beauchamp, Mitchell Barnett and Gavin Branson.
A couple of potential "impact" newcomers are Michael Fischer, a 6-2 junior forward; and Garrett Nelson, a 6-1 forward.
"We have some height, so we are trying to utilize good defense, and be able to utilize our height as a strength," Nezperce coach Scott Branson said.
Rebounding and transition play are targeted areas of improvement on defense, he said.
Nezperce lost three key players from last year in Casey Beauchamp, Drake Berry and Tanner Wahl.
"We are working on a lot of fundamental basketball this year," coach Branson said. "We have a great group of kids that work hard, and want to improve both individually and as a team. We want to limit turnovers and make smart plays."
The team's motto this year is "Play with Heart." T
he "X-factor" this season is "rebounding, and not giving up second-chance baskets," Branson said.
The must-see game on Nezperce's schedule this year is Dec. 18 at home vs. Highland of Craigmont. "It's a rivalry game; always good to have a big home crowd," he said.
What has Branson excited about this team is "just to get on the floor for game night. We work hard in practice, and game night is the reward."
Branson said if he could change one rule in Idaho high school basketball, "I would take out the quarters limitation on players for smaller schools. With smaller conferences in the state, and small towns struggling to field a full JV and varsity team, it makes it even more difficult to not be able to play kids based on quarters played. I think in high school basketball, it's important to get playing time, and not be hindered by quarter limitations."
Branson said he enjoys coaching high school basketball because "it's important to volunteer and help out your community -- especially small communities. E
verybody has something they can contribute. It's important to me to get kids active, and reinforce discipline and working hard, mixed with something fun like sports. Being on a team and having camaraderie is something kids don't ever forget."
He enjoys coaching at his school because "Nezperce is a great place to live and raise kids," Branson said. "We have a great community that is active, and supportive."