Salmon River High School
Conference: 1AD2 Long Pin Conference
Classification: 1A D2
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Head Coach: Charlie Shepherd
Record Last Year: 7-13
Randy McClure (Soph)
Gabe Gonzalez (Sr)
Steven Hackler (Sr)
Devan Brandstetter (Jr)
Johnny Shepherd (Sr)
Tucker Boyd (Sr)
Canyon Harper (Soph)
Peyton Baugh (Jr)
Reece Jones (Soph)
Returning Players with Honors:
Tucker Boyd (2nd Team All-Conference); Devan Brandstetter (Honorable Mention All-Conference)
Key Players lost from last year:
F Rylie Travis, F Alex Diaz, F Beau’d Hopkins
Incoming impact players:
G Clayton Shepherd – Transfer from Capital HS
Written by: Will Hoenike
Before a neutral-court, non-conference game last December against Shoshone, Salmon River head coach Charlie Shepherd quipped how hard it can be to get a high-school boy’s mindset from the mindset of a football player to the mindset of a basketball player.
You see, Shepherd, who also coaches the football team, had just watched his team win the 1A Division II state football championship two weeks before. The result was seven losses in the first eight games.
Guess what? Salmon River gets a chance to do it again this season.
The Savages won the 1A Division II state title again before Thanksgiving and now Shepherd (and his players) change their mindsets to basketball. The team did win its season-opener over Highland of Craigmont in late November.
And, when you look at the basketball lineup, it resembles the football lineup – Tucker Boyd, Canyon Harper, Johnny Shepherd, Peyton Baugh, Steven Hackler and Gabe Gonzalez. That means, for starters, there’s no lack of sheer athletic ability in Riggins. A lot of plain ol’ athleticism for Coach Shepherd to lean on.
He also picked up a key transfer over the summer in senior guard Clayton Shepherd. The 5-foot-8 Shepherd was a member of the Capital boys basketball team last season, which reached the 5A State Tournament. He saw minutes, too, as a heart-and-grit, “hustle” player for a good Eagles team. He should add to a deep and athletic backcourt for Salmon River.
What the team lacks is true size inside. Its departing seniors from last season – Rylie Travis, Beau’d Hopkins and Alex Diaz – represented half of the true size on the roster. Junior Peyton Baugh and sophomores Canyon Harper and Reece Jones all stand 5-foot-11 and represent the tallest player(s) returning for the Savages. The team is going to have to work hard defending the post and rebounding at both ends of the floor to compliment the backcourt.
The Long Pin Conference has long been a gauntlet for opposing teams. To survive and advance, you have to get through Council, Cascade, Tri-Valley, Garden Valley, Salmon River and Meadows Valley. There are tough basketball teams in there. Salmon River and Meadows Valley field a team jointly (under the Salmon River name) for football, so friends become rivals again on January 6 (in New Meadows) and January 21 (in Riggins) on the basketball court.
There’s no lack of sheer athletic talent for the Savages and no lack of close-knit bonds, either – Clayton Shepherd joins Johnny Shepherd, Tucker Boyd and freshman Ethan Shepherd on the team, all of whom originate from the same family tree. The team should compete and be in the mix for a strong seed going into the District Tournament. Continued growth and development of an inside game, both offensively and defensively, may hold the key to just how far this team can go.