Hillcrest High School
Conference: 5A District 5-6 Conference
Head Coach: Dave Austin
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: 18 years as assistant coach
Record Last Year: 15-7
McKay Mangeris, PG, Senior
Trey Johnson, F, Sophomore
McKay Carlson, F, Senior
Returning Players with Honors:
McKay Mangeris – 5A District 5-6 1st Team All-Conference
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Coleman Johnson, Forward
Morgan Pyper, Guard
Incoming “impact” players:
Tanner Chapple, G/F, Junior
Nash Austin, G, Junior
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
At the midpoint of the 2014-15 campaign, if you said that Hillcrest was a Top 5 team at the 5A level, no one would have batted an eye. The Knights were 11-0 and were cruising through their schedule.
Then on Jan. 15, 2015, the Highland game came… and with it a 24-point loss at the hands of the Rams. And thus began the derailment of Hillcrest’s season.
For whatever reason, the wheels fell off for the Knights from that point on, finishing the season with just a 4-7 record en route to a quick two-and-out exit from the district tournament.
Following the season, longtime head coach Don Baldwin decided to step down as the leader of the program. He said at the time that ‘the timing was right.’ Hillcrest needed a new voice leading the charge.
That voice is now Dave Austin. And his key to this season is what the Knights may have lacked at the latter end of last year.
“Confidence,” he said. “If we believe that we can beat anybody, then we will have success.”
Austin has never been a head coach before at the high school level, but feels his 18-plus years of experience as an assistant has prepared him well. He inherits a team that lost a few key contributors, but brings back a good one-two punch in seniors McKay Mangeris and McKay Carlson.
Mangeris averaged 16.7 points per game last season while shooting nearly 50% from the field, grabbing almost five rebounds per game, dishing out almost three assists per game and averaging two steals per contest. He certainly will be the focal point of opposing defenses.
Carlson, meanwhile, chipped in 8.4 points per game last year while averaging four rebounds plus an assist and steal per contest.
“Having Mangeris back as our point guard will be a strength,” Austin said. “He sees the floor well and makes great decisions.”
Hillcrest has been known for their penchant to shoot the three. Even with a new lead man in charge, don’t expect their shooting ability to change at all.
“We have athletes who can shoot the ball really well and should be able to light up the scoreboard,” said Austin.
One of those players in junior guard Nash Austin, a competitor that can really light it up from deep.
“Nash can shoot with the best of them,” coach Austin said. “We will look to him when outside shots are needed.”
Austin is also looking forward to seeing the progression of sophomore Trey Johnson, who saw significant floor time last year as a freshman.
“He has a year under his belt now and we expect him to contribute on both ends of the floor,” he said.
Austin also added that junior Tanner Chapple will be a key piece to the puzzle this year, saying that the Knights will use him in a variety of ways with his ‘motor that won’t quit’.
The emphasis offensively for Hillcrest this year focuses on making better choices on fast break opportunities, finding the open man and making the extra pass, and not being selfish, which at times hurt the Knights down the stretch last year.
Defensively, Austin would like to see his team be more aggressive defenders on ball, but added their team defense has improved.
“Our strength on defense is the overall team defense,” he said. “Being able to communicate with each other will be a must if we are going to succeed.”
It’s a new era of basketball at Hillcrest and Austin hopes to turn some heads in his first year at the helm. It won’t be easy in the tough 5A District 5-6 conference, but Austin is looking forward to the challenge.
“I am most excited about our players’ attitudes and willingness to do whatever it takes to win,” he said. “This group of athletes really get along with each other and that makes coaching them a lot of fun.”
Austin wants his team to be up-tempo and aggressive on both ends of the floor, which certainly will make them a fun team to watch.