Challis High School
Conference: 1AD1 High Desert Conference
Classification: 1A D1
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Challis High School Team Bio
Head Coach: JoAnna Leaton
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Record Last Year: 15-9
State Titles: None
Key Players lost from last year:
Written by: Matt Harris
1AD1 District 5-6 High Desert Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Laura Parkinson, Challis
Kacie Hewitt, Challis
Katie Hewitt, Challis
Joanna Campbell, Challis
Shae Donaldson, Grace
Braylee Wood, Grace
Breanna Hill, Grace
Maddie Windley, Grace
Life in a two-team conference has its benefits and problems.
A benefit? Only having one team to beat to get into the state play-in game.
A problem? Trying to beat that one team a few times just to get into that state play-in game – and then hoping that you play your best at that state play-in game since winning your conference isn’t enough to get you into the state tournament.
That all being said, the 1AD1 High Desert Conference will only feature two teams for the remainder of this season, as Butte County is set to re-join the ranks in 2018-19. But in the meantime, Grace and Challis will prepare themselves to try to get back to the state tournament.
Grace’s program seems to be on the upswing with head coach Jason Nance and crew. The Grizzlies bring back several players who played key roles last season without losing anyone to graduation – a big plus for Grace’s hopes for continuity and cohesion moving into the season.
Seniors Brittanee Rasmussen, Braylee Wood, and Shae Donaldson will use their experience to lead Grace through the regular season and potentially into a deep playoff run. Sophomores Kayci Younger, Maddie Windley, and Lexie Sorenson along with junior Breanna Hill will give Grace a good amount of depth to work with. Freshman center Maniah Clegg will also have an impact.
“We are a very young team, mostly sophomores, but they are starting to believe in our system and I think things are going to be different than last year,” said Nance.
Nance said that a few players are expected to shoulder more of the load this season – some with big expectations.
“We are excited with our center, Braylee Wood, who is a strong presences in the middle on both offense and defense,” he said. “Last year was her first year back in a couple of seasons and she was really green, but she has come a long way and we are expecting big things from her.”
Nance also said that Hill and Windley will be leaned on to use their skills and experiences from club ball to aid the Grizzlies.
“Breanna and Maddie have really improved their level of play through club ball and we expect to see them impact our offense this year.”
The offense is what Grace hopes to improve on this year, as Nance said they tended to stagnate at times when they had the ball. Nance also believes his defense can help spark their offense.
“I think our defense is a force to be reckoned with this year,” he said. “It was really new last season for us and the girls were awkward with it until the end of last season. This year, it looks really good and is going to be our strong suit.”
“If we can keep other team’s points down, we have every reason to believe that we are headed to state.”
The Challis Vikings plan on having a say on who goes to state in 2018, however, they must deal well with the changing of the guard in the girls basketball program.
After longtime head coach Jim Chamberlain stepped down, new head coach JoAnna Leaton will look to fill the shoes of the very successful former coach.
Leaton’s squad will also be without the now-graduated Tara Chamberlain, who had a big impact on the program from start to finish.
The Vikings will lean on Laura Parkinson to help guide a young crew through the regular season, which includes several trips to 1AD2 and 2A schools. Joanna Campbell, Jasmine Rivera, and Kacie and Katie Hewitt will also be leaned on to provide scoring and leadership.
“Parkinson is a force to be reckoned with,” said Nance, noting that she is definitely a player to watch in the conference.
Challis may be fortunate enough to have their games against Grace near the end of the regular season – it gives them time to sort out their offensive and defensive schemes and potentially find a groove that fits their style.
The problem? Grace has the same amount of time to find the tune they desire as well.