Written by: Sven Alskog
4A Great Basin Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
3. Twin Falls
4. Canyon Ridge
6. Wood River
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ryan Bagley, Senior, Burley
Mitchell Brizee, Junior, Twin Falls
Ryan Ball, Junior, Twin Falls
Larry Vega, Senior, Minico
Regen Povlsen, Senior, Minico
Andrew Ferrin, Senior, Burley
Jackson Hill, Senior, Burley
Hudson Pierce, Junior, Canyon Ridge
Jordin Myers, Junior, Jerome
It was an eventful offseason for the Burley Bobcats, with former coach Jack Bagley taking a job in Arizona and his announced replacement Travis Noble then moving on to an assistant job for the men’s basketball program at Walla Walla Community College.
After the dust settled, Trent Whiting was named the new head coach, with a strong core group of seniors coming back that should help steer the team towards another state tournament appearance.
Conference Player of the Year Ryan Bagley returns, along with Andrew Ferrin and Jackson Hill, among other seniors. That trio will keep the Bobcats as tough of an opponent as ever in an improving Great Basin Conference.
Minico missed the tournament last season, but with Larry Vega and Regen Povlsen entering their senior campaigns, expect the Spartans to be hungry to make it a short hiatus this time around.
Vega was a First Team All-Conference selection last year, and combined with incoming impact players like Kasen Carpenter and Rylan Chandler, could make Minico a team to watch out for in the 4A ranks.
“I’m really excited about our growth over the course of the summer and the development and chemistry with our older and younger players being a key component to our success. We have some kids that really love the game and can play an exciting brand of basketball. We have the most depth I think we’ve had top to bottom since I’ve been at Minico,” said fifth year head coach Ty Shippen.
He likes the fact that he can rely on scorers all over the floor.
“We have a unique ability to score from every position and our guard play will be stronger off the dribble. On the defensive end we will be better equipped to guard people. We’ve moved Larry Vega off the point guard position and have two very capable point guards that can get the ball where it needs go and create pressure defensively.”
It’s all about tempo for the Spartans.
“We want to attack, attack, attack. We‘ve got some players that can really stretch the floor and knock down shots. We’ve got some length and speed. We have to be committed to defense. If we will keep our focus on the defensive end, we will have opportunities to win big games. Defense and rebounding will be the key to a successful season for us,” added Shippen.
Twin Falls returns the Meyerhoeffer’s in the backcourt, along with the duo of Ryan Ball and Mitchell Brizee to compliment them on the inside.
Brizee is 6-foot-7 while Ball is 6-foot-8, giving the Bruins a nice height advantage on most nights.
The top three teams in the conference stand-out among the crowd in the Great Basin.
“Burley, Minico and Twin Falls are the top contenders this year in our conference. All three of those teams are state quality,” said Jerome head coach Joe Messick.
With that said, Canyon Ridge and Jerome have sleeper potential, although for the Tigers in particular, replacing nine seniors from a year ago will be awfully difficult.
The Riverhawks on the other hand have a good mix of experience and youth, with upperclassmen Derek Clark, Logan Ahlquist, Izak Cuellar and Hudson Pierce leading the way.
“I believe these kids truly like, understand and appreciate what each player can bring to the table. They don’t all bring the same thing, but they understand that collectively we can cover a lot with everyone’s talents,” said Canyon Ridge head coach Darren Van Hofwegen.
Playing a full 32 minutes and having peak performance at the end of the season are critical for this team.
“We need to improve our conditioning from last season. That is my fault, so I plan on working on that,” added Van Hofwegen.
For the Tigers, a team that made a trip to state last season, finding new leaders is the name of the game.
The junior trio of Jordin Myers, Brayden Ahrens and Cole Baker will have some big shoes to fill, including three All-Conference players and one who received honorable mention.
“Although we are super inexperienced, it’s a great group of kids who are willing to work hard each day. Their commitment and dedication have been outstanding,” said Messick.
Expect a similar style to last year, just with new faces running the show.
“Offensively we will run a variety of sets to our best scoring threats. We must shoot the ball well from the perimeter and we must attack the rim when we have opportunities. Execution and limiting turnovers will be critical. Sharing the basketball, making the extra pass and taking great shots will be a big factor. Defensively we need to focus on keeping guys in front and protecting the paint. We also must rebound the basketball well. We can’t allow penetration along with second and third looks,” added Messick.
Wood River won eight games last season, including a seven-game winning streak from December 15 through January 16, but could struggle mightily after losing many key seniors from last season.