Kootenai High School
Conference: 1AD2 North Star League
Classification: 1A D2
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Kootenai High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Doug Napierala
Record Last Year: 5-10
State Titles: 1980, 1981
Kaili Gentry, 11
Kennedy LaFountaine, 10
Written by: Sven Alskog
1AD2 North Star League
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
*Wallace does not factor into conference standings, but is included in this poll, as the team plays a full schedule against North Star opponents
1. Genesis Prep
4. Clark Fork
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bella Murekatete, Junior, Genesis Prep
Kennedy LaFountaine, Sophomore, Kootenai
Rachel Schroeder, Junior, Genesis Prep
Tommia Pakootas, Junior, Lakeside
Kaili Gentry, Senior, Kootenai
Jen Hayman, Senior, Wallace
Brooke Stevens, Junior, Clark Fork
Tessa Sutton, Junior, Clark Fork
With 6’4” junior post Bella Murekatete leading the way, Genesis Prep has arguably the best inside presence of any small school in the state, something that should give the Jaguars a big advantage again this season.
In the state tournament opener against Rockland last year, Murekatete had one of the best performances in the history of the 1AD2 Real Dairy Shootout, piling up 33 points and 29 rebounds in a monster performance, something she has done consistently throughout her high school career so far.
Even with all the success of a year ago, coaches throughout the North Star believe there will be even more improvement moving forward for the Jaguars.
“Genesis Prep will be improved this year bringing back their full roster,” said Lakeside head coach Chris Dohrman.
Dorhman’s Lakeside group made the state tournament last year, but lost talented scorer Lillian Rhea and the guard duo of Rachael Arthur and Corin Peone.
All-League honoree Tommia Pakootas is back to man the perimeter for the Knights, with Alyssa SiJohn, Suzanna Pakootas and Samantha Adrian some of the key talent around her.
“We are a very young team with only one senior, so we will look to learn and improve quickly. We like to control the pace of the game on offense and we like to contest shots, protect the paint, limit second opportunities and unnecessary fouls on defense. We need to improve our fundamental skills, increase our basketball IQ and just keep getting better,” added Dohrman.
As the only 1AD1 school in district one, Wallace plays a full North Star schedule, although when it comes time to head into February for state tournament purposes the Miners already know that they have a play-in matchup against the second place team out of the Whitepine League.
First year head coach Nichole Farkas has to replace stalwarts such as current Rocky Mountain College basketball player Maryssa Hogamier as a guard and quality defender Sierra Brantz.
Fortunately there is still enough on-hand to make the Miners competitive this season as they look for a state tournament appearance, including posts Jen Hayman and Maggie Howard and the guard trio of Kimmie Krous, Hayley Oertli and Catie Sheppard.
“This year’s team should have a great guard/post balance. Our bench will provide a lot of energy for an up-tempo game. Ball movement should be fun to watch as multiple girls should be able to score,” said Farkas.
Expect the Miners to go fast, meaning being smart with the ball will be paramount.
“We are hoping to have an up-tempo game and use our quickness and depth to wear down our opponents. We will need to be mindful of turnovers and work hard to grab those rebounds. Our early season might take a little work with the girls adjusting to new coaches and some new ideas,” added Farkas.
A team that could surprise some people this year is Clark Fork.
The Wampus Cats return All-League selections Brooke Stevens and Tessa Sutton, with freshman guard Kaylee Banks having the potential to make a big impact in her first year at the varsity level.
“These girls are getting a whole new coaching style and already I’ve seen mass improvement. Tessa Sutton is a returning junior and we are re-inventing the wheel offensively with her,” said first year Clark Fork head coach Jordan Adams.
He’ll be employing a half court style of offense that relies on set plays to be successful.
“On offense we run the play, look for our options and execute for a goal. On defense we are focusing on holding teams to low scores. Defensively my girls are already good, but there is always room for improvement. I would like to get them better at finishing shots in practice which will lead to finishing shots in games and working together as a team,” added Adams.
Other teams are taking notice.
“Clark Fork could surprise some people because they have had a young team that is now coming into their own,” said Farkas.
Kootenai returns two key cogs in Kaili Gentry and Kennedy LaFountaine, the latter of which is just a sophomore, meaning the future should be bright for the Warriors.