South Fremont High School
Conference: 3A Mountain Rivers Conference
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Head Coach: Ryan Erikson
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: Boys JV coach at South Fremont and West Jefferson
Record Last Year: 4-18
Brinlie Rowbury, Guard, Junior
Karlee Parkinson, Point Guard, Senior
Harlee Speth, Post, Junior
Incoming impact players:
Olivia LeCheminant, Post, Sophomore
Paizlie Hobbs, Guard, Sophomore
Malorie Johnson, Guard, Sophomore
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
New faces. New leadership. New attitude.
The South Fremont Cougars girls basketball team features a lot of changes as Ryan Erikson takes over the program with hopes of revitalizing it in the tough Mountain Rivers Conference. Erikson and his staff are prepared to take it one step at a time as they work to make the Cougars into a contender.
“I’m excited to see how our team improves over the year,” said Erikson, in his first head coaching job after previously serving as an assistant for the South Fremont and West Jefferson boys programs. “We are young, so it’s hard to predict how this team will respond to the ups and downs of the season.”
Young indeed. Out of the nine girls on the varsity squad, four of them are sophomores. But their youth won’t limit them from their expected contributions.
“Each of those sophomores are major parts of the team,” said Erikson. “I’m excited to see what they will do.”
The coach said he expects sophomore post Olivia LeCheminant and sophomore guards Paizlie Hobbs and Malorie Johnson to make an immediate impact. Mix in returning juniors Brinlie Rowbury and Harlee Speth, along with senior Karlee Parkinson and the Cougars have a nice core to be able to build from the ground up.
Offensively, the Cougars averaged in the mid-30’s to low-40’s scoring-wise and will need to find another gear to raise the win totals. Erikson said he is confident in his team’s abilities.
“We’re young, but I feel we are very talented,” he said. “We have players that can all attack and help clear out the basket. Our younger players will be a major focus of what we do.”
That said, Erikson pointed to a season-long problem that he says needs to immediately be fixed.
“We turned the ball over way to much last year,” he quipped. “We will focus on improving on that and also winning the rebounding battle. We hope to work as a team and improve our rebounding on both ends of the floor.”
Rebounding, while seemingly simple, has a major impact on the game. And Erikson feels that a lot of the success of their season will depend on it.
“If we can rebound the ball this year, I feel good about our season,” he said.
The coach added that adjustments on defense will prove crucial in their quest for success.
“The girls hustle and are all willing to work no matter the score,” said Erikson. “They understand help side and understand what they all need to do to stop the ball.”
Erikson is hoping that his experiences with the Cougars’ boys team from their 2015 title winning season can translate over to the girls game and help his squad improve with each passing play.
“When I was on the boys team when we won state, we used the term ‘Next Play’ to help strengthen our team mentally,” he said. “We are reading a book titled ‘Toughness’ by Jay Bilas (former Duke basketball player and current ESPN college basketball analyst) and ‘Next Play’ is a major focus in the book. We want our players to move on from mistakes and focus on the next play.”
That focus will be incredibly important late in the season when conference play tips off. The always tough Mountain Rivers Conference is just as difficult to navigate this season.
“Teton is the team to beat,” Erikson said. “They have the most returning players and had a great year last year. Our conference is the toughest in 3A and one of the toughest in the state… every conference game will be a battle.”
South Fremont will look to employ their new mentality this season and hopefully parlay it into wins. If they can do that, the Cougars could be turning some heads come district tournament time in February.