Nezperce High School
Conference: 1AD2 Whitepine League
Classification: 1A D2
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Nezperce High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Mike Webster
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Record Last Year: 1-15
State Titles: 1978, 1979, 2010, 2012
Garrett Nelson, 12, P
Kade Zenner, 12, P
Jimmy Barnett, 11, G
Landon Wahl, 11, G
Cade Webster, 11, G
KJ Carpenter, 11, P
Returning Players with Honors:
Jimmy Barnett, Second Team All-League
Key Players lost from last year:
Gerry Fischer, G, emotional leader
Written by: Sven Alskog
1AD2 Whitepine League
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jalen Kirk, Senior, Deary
Tanner Anderson, Senior, Deary
Brian Lawrence, Senior, Kendrick
Hayden Deeds, Senior, Kendrick
Morgan Weeks, Senior, Highland-Craigmont
Jimmy Barnett, Junior, Nezperce
Tyler Cochrell, Senior, Timberline-Weippe
Bennett Schlect, Junior, Logos
Entering the new year Kendrick and Deary again look like the favorites in the 1AD2 Whitepine League.
After making the state tournament for the first time since 1998, the Deary Mustangs bring back senior stalwarts Jalen Kirk and Tanner Anderson, both All-League performers a year ago.
The inside-out combination has plenty of talent surrounding it as well, led by fellow seniors Colten Heath, Parker Johnston, Jayce Weinmann and James Loyd.
Replacing do-everything star Seth Winter will be a challenge, but with so much senior experience in place, the Mustangs appear ready to meet it head-on.
“Solid group of seniors that care about the sport [and are] willing to work hard and have positive attitudes. Willing to put in the extra work. Playing together for so many years improves team chemistry,” said first year Deary head coach Kendrick Jared.
Other coaches in the league see the Mustangs as the favorites entering the season.
“We must make Deary uncomfortable and not allow them to do what they want to do. The conference championship runs through Deary for sure,” said Kendrick head coach Morgan LeBlanc.
Even with the losses of big-man Wyatt Hardin and guards Blake Marker, Logan Blair and Cody Taylor, Kendrick should be right there with the Mustangs this season.
The Tigers return post presence Hayden Deeds for his senior season, with Bryan Carter, Brian Lawrence and Jerry Gorbett good options as well on each end of the floor.
“Defensively we like to apply a lot of pressure whether it’s full-court or half-court. We use a zone trap in both the half-court setting and the full-court setting. Offensively we are going to rely on our transition game to get us some easy buckets. We will be strong in the post with Deeds and Gorbett, and yet be able to shoot the ball well with Lawrence, Carter and [Alex] Brown,” said LeBlanc.
He likes the cohesiveness of the group and the ability to get out and run.
“This year’s team chemistry will be better than previous years. While we won’t be as deep as last year’s squad, we will be able to get out in transition better and we will be more athletic than we were last year.”
Alex Sneve is an incoming sophomore guard that will be looking to make a big impact as well.
Coaches in the league are expecting more of a reload than a rebuild out of the Tigers.
“Kendrick lost seven seniors last season, so one would assume they may have a down year, but they have some good players returning,” said Timberline-Weippe head coach John Bower.
Logos has a huge loss of its own to deal with, with star guard Brennan Costello on his way to Gonzaga Prep for his senior season.
Coming back for the Knights will be a strong junior class highlighted by guard Bennett Schlect and fellow backcourt mate Nic Minudri. David Popoola will be relied upon for senior leadership.
“We are pleased with the level of commitment to work hard and work together as a team,” said Logos head coach Matt Whitling.
Highland-Craigmont has outstanding turnout this year, something which should help quite a bit in regards to depth.
“The seniors have been playing with each other since grade school and they just have a pure enjoyment of the game. We have a total of 24 guys out for basketball out of a high school with 52 students,” said head coach Patty Weeks.
Second Team All-League guard Morgan Weeks is back for his senior season. He will be surrounded by five additional seniors to give the Huskies an experienced group.
Kaden Schwartz and Justin Wassmuth are a couple of the other key cogs for Highland-Craigmont.
“We have a player that has superb court vision and can thread the needle into the key. We will continue to develop that. In addition, at practice our early look at free throw percentages are looking great. Offensively they will be given the freedom on the court to read the defense and attack because of their experience. Defensively we plan to apply more pressure and trap more,” added Weeks.
Timberline-Weippe has a lot of seniors back after having limited experience last season.
“I am excited about our senior class. It is good to have this many well-seasoned varsity players returning. Last year we only had one senior which caused some difficulties. I’m looking forward to capitalizing on the pre-manufactured chemistry these guys have created working together in the past,” said Bower.
Tyler Cochrell, Jack Rockwood and C.J. Brouwers are some of the senior leaders for the Spartans.
The team has potential to surprise some people.
“They have several players that are returning that teams may overlook,” said Jared.
Nezperce has an expectation to become a tougher out this season after going 1-15 a year ago.
“Now in my second year, I’m excited to have five to six experienced players back in the same system. We continue to build chemistry as a team. The key to our success will lie with our big men, Kade Zenner and Garrett Nelson. We are expecting them to control the key on offense and defense. Jimmy Barnett creating opportunities from the wing is key. We expect Cade Webster, Landon Wahl and KJ Carpenter to expand their roles as key contributors,” said Nezperce head coach Mike Webster.
Replacing team leader Gerry Fischer will be a tall task, but if players such as a Second Team All-Conference selection like Barnett continue to show improvement, the Indians could be much improved.
With an offense that likes to go slow, good shot selection is paramount.
“Offensively I’d say we will be methodical. We’ll be patient and look to create opportunities through motion offense. Defensively we will be aggressive. This is an area of improvement that we will focus on,” added Webster. “I don’t expect to be the blowout game we have been in the past.”
While it again looks like Kendrick and Deary will be the favorites, the three through six spots appear to be wide-open, with some new faces optimistic to reshuffle the seeding order.