Conference: 1AD1 Western Idaho Conference
Classification: 1A D1
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Head Coach: Rob Shepherd
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Record Last Year: 9-11
G Jared Franklin (Sr); P Andy Renschler (Sr)
Returning Players with Honors:
Franklin – Honorable Mention All-WIC
Key Players lost from last year:
G Jarod Delay; P Mason Hartpence
Incoming impact players:
G Michael Barbosa (Jr); G Heston Dillon (Jr)
Written by: Will Hoenike
The Victory Charter Vipers found success against certain teams last season. Two wins over Greenleaf Friends Academy. Two wins over Garden Valley. Two wins over Rimrock. But the Vipers also struggled against the Western Idaho Conference’s elite teams, coming up empty in their games against the two teams from District III to qualify for the 1A Division I State Tournament, Liberty Charter and Ambrose.
It’s at the core of what 6th-year head coach Rob Shepherd sees as the so-called “X-factor” for his team’s success going into the 2016-17 campaign.
“We need to get better every day,” Shepherd said. “And have some guys step up to the challenge against the better teams in the league.”
Shepherd and the Vipers bring back two key starters from last season in senior point guard Jared Franklin and senior post player Andy Renschler. Franklin, as a junior, was honorable-mention All-Conference. Shepherd is excited about the experience returning for the Vipers, but also points to a pair of junior guards, Heston Dillon and Michael Barbosa, as possible breakout candidates this season.
“We try to get to the basket,” Shepherd explained. “We want all of our guys to be able to take guys off the dribble to the basket.”
One thing that makes that task easier is a consistent outside threat, something the Viper coaching staff hopes to cultivate this season. With someone (or multiple “someones”) stretching the defense, the lanes to the basket get bigger and bigger, making the task of getting to the rim a little bit easier.
Shepherd says his team will also focus on continued improvement in rebounding on both ends of the floor.
The Vipers will be looking out for a little revenge at Horseshoe Bend on January 13 as the Mustangs knocked the Vipers out of the District III tournament last February in a tightly-contested game. The team will also welcome in Ambrose, the defending 1A Division I state champion, one week later, on January 20.
Victory Charter was a competitive team last season, finishing close to .500 (9-11) and proving it could hang with most of the Western Idaho Conference. If the team develops the way Shepherd and his assistant, Kaleb Jones, think they can, this is a team that can compete for a favorable seed into the District Tournament in February. And, if it continues to improve and can achieve that X-factor, the ultimate carrot – the 1A Division I State Tournament – is out there.