American Falls High School
Conference: 3A South East Idaho Conference
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American Falls High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Chris Fehringer
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: Assistant Boys at American Falls
Record Last Year: 3-17
State Titles: 1948
Ethan Neibaur, PG, 12
TJ Burry, G, 12
Parker Funk, G, 12
Key Players lost from last year:
Bridger Bammert, C
Written by: Matt Harris
3A South East Idaho Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Snake River
2. Marsh Valley
3. American Falls
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Clancy Thomas, Snake River
Carson Dance, Snake River
Kade Mortensen, Snake River
Coby Young, Snake River
Ethan Neibaur, American Falls
TJ Burry, American Falls
Parker Funk, American Falls
Payton Campbell, Marsh Valley
Isaac Bowman, Marsh Valley
Jacob McNabb, Marsh Valley
Despite only getting one team from the conference into last year’s state tournament, that one team nearly won it all.
A heartbreaking 71-69 overtime loss in the State Championship to Sugar-Salem has kept Snake River hungry since last March and given them plenty of motivation.
This time around, they hope to finish the deal at the Idaho Center and raise an eighth state title banner. And the Panthers have plenty of talent returning in order to get the job done.
Back in the fold for Robert Coombs’ squad this year includes 3A Player of the Year Clancy Thomas, who signed his letter of intent to play basketball at Colorado Mesa University following a planned two-year LDS Church mission. Carson Dance is also back along with Kade Mortensen and Coby Young, players who played supporting roles last season alongside Thomas.
Those players will take on an increased role this season with the departures of Bridger Truman and Porter Baldwin, who both graduated. Coombs added that senior Matt Kracl is expected to have a big impact on the team as well.
“We have a great group of kids to work with. It should be a fun year,” he said.
From a historical perspective, Snake River has been the most consistent team in the conference. However, the last time they missed the state tournament was only two years ago. The team that knocked them out of the district tournament was the Marsh Valley Eagles.
Marsh Valley will look to improve on their 7-15 record from a year ago. The Eagles, led by head coach Jason Brower, are a team that will try to play fast and are not afraid to shoot the 3.
This season, they bring back Payton Campbell, Jeff Wilding, and Cody Goodworth. Look for these three players to be leaned on heavily for leadership and to shoulder the load.
The Eagles will need to peak at the right time and rely on solid defense to help get the job done. A big key for Marsh Valley will be their ability to rebound and eliminate second chance opportunities.
As for American Falls, the Beavers will continue to try to turn around their program which has struggled immensely.
Since 2009, the most wins that American Falls has posted in any single season is four, which came during the 2012-2013 campaign. Last year’s 3-17 record is obviously not where second-year head coach Chris Fehringer had hoped his squad would finish, but it is a start. Changing a culture doesn’t happen overnight.
While the Beavers lost leading scorer and rebounder Bridger Bammert to graduation, Fehringer said that the program is on the upswing.
“We have a strong junior class this year and are a more balanced team on both ends of the court,” he said.
The senior guard trio of Ethan Neibaur, TJ Burry, and Parker Funk will lead the American Falls team this season. Look for them to be in the box score every night. Fehringer said that Funk will return mid-season as he recovers from injury. The coach also noted that he wants his team to play a more up-tempo offense and be more aggressive on defense.
With the losses that have mounted in the American Falls program, Fehringer says that one of their biggest keys to the season may simply come from within.
“We have to come together as a team and believe in ourselves,” he said. “We play well together but need to build confidence.”