5A Southern Idaho Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
2. Rocky Mountain
6. Mountain View
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ellis Magnuson, Senior, Borah
Austin Bolt, Junior, Borah
Briggs Ranstrom, Junior, Rocky Mountain
Javen Woodall, Senior, Meridian
Donavon Sanor, Junior, Meridian
Brody Rowbury, Sophomore, Meridian
Cole Alton, Senior, Boise
Tanner Hayhurst, Junior, Eagle
Dallen Perrin, Senior, Mountain View
Andy Ford, Senior, Timberline
Kolby Modrow, Senior, Centennial
Brady Taylor, Senior, Skyview
Kade Sorenson, Senior, Capital
Two-time defending state champion Rocky Mountain enters the new season picked second behind Borah in the preseason coaches poll.
The Lions bring back a core of talent led by point guard Ellis Magnuson and forward Austin Bolt that have expectations high on the floor for the group.
“We should be able to get up and down the court, put pressure on the opponent and we should be pretty deep. We have four returning starters and some of the guys have really developed their games over the last year,” said Borah head coach Jeremy Dennis.
Some of the other notable returners for Dennis include DeVaughn Williams, Kyler Castro, Biggie Bergersen and Caleb Golden.
Junior guard Isaac Dewberry transferred in from Illinois as well and will add depth to the guard line for an already fast and athletic team.
“We like to get up and down the court and we should be able to play good team defense. We need to continue to rebound as a team and limit our turnovers,” added Dennis. “I think we are similar to last year, but we need that same chemistry. We should be pretty senior led, which is very important. We probably are a little bit more athletic than last year and we should have pretty good depth.”
Rocky Mountain will provide a tough mountain to climb in order for Borah to take over the top spot in the conference, as the Grizzlies bring back talented guards Brayden Hamilton and Briggs Ranstrom to provide some experience in the backcourt.
Having that duo in place will help to lessen the impact of graduating the standout guard tandem of Hunter Ranstrom and Tyler O’Donnell.
Losing talent from a winning program creates new challenges, but also opportunities.
“We lost five key seniors that led us to our championships [from] last year. I’m excited to see what returning players will step up and become leaders this year,” said Rocky Mountain head coach Dane Roy.
There is plenty of athleticism on the roster on the outside, so finding some pieces that can make an impact and complement them on the interior will be pivotal.
Fortunately for the Grizzlies, many of the guards that will see extensive playing time on the floor have good length and can make things difficult for opponents.
“Defensively we are long and athletic and should make it difficult to score. We should also have solid depth and can play fast. We will definitely need to work on our chemistry with the loss of our senior leaders,” added Roy. “We will again be focused on being really good defensively, which was our strength last year. Our toughness and ability to find ways to win is our big unknown.”
Returners Cooper Frith, Jaden Hansen, Straten Rogers and Payton Lamm will all have plenty of opportunities, as well as Townsend Tripple, who is up from JV.
Beyond favorites Borah and Rocky Mountain, there should be a group of teams that can make runs this year.
Meridian is one of those teams and was picked third in the preseason coaches poll.
Seven returners are back for the Warriors, giving them one of the more experienced rosters in the conference.
Each returner that will take the floor this winter for Meridian has the potential to lead the team in scoring on any given night, making the team a dangerous threat.
Honorable Mention All-SIC shooting guard Javen Woodall teams with Spencer Fair and Donovan Sanor to form a tough backcourt, with sophomore Brody Rowbury an imposing presence on the inside along with Micah Franklyn.
“I am excited to see the growth and development of our returning players and the difference a year will make,” said Meridian head coach Jeff Sanor. “We should be much better defensively. We want to play fast. We have very good shooters and will look to create positive matchup opportunities.”
Other coaches expect a tough matchup each time they go up against the Warriors.
“They are a group of talented and athletic players who have the ability to play at a very high level,” said Eagle head coach Jeff Ranstrom.
Boise is another team that will compete for a state tournament berth.
The Braves will be without current Gonzaga talent Paul Pennington and another familiar face in Lucas Centeno.
Despite that, don’t count the Braves out, as the program still boasts one of the top players in the state in Cole Alton.
“We are excited about how connected this group is. They understand each other’s strengths and maximize those while building up any of their weaknesses,” said Boise head coach Manny Varela. “We will [have] a new group of players. We have more athleticism and height than we had last year.”
Emmett Plummer and Whitt Miller highlight the returning outside players, with senior post Garrett Hansen ready to man the middle.
“We strive to be a high-efficiency team that uses each other to score. We move the ball well and turn good shots into great ones with efficient passing. We need to be an excellent defensive team. That is a standard that we set in our program and this group must meet those requirements,” added Varela.
“They lost a lot of good players, but they have some really good returning players with experience in key situations,” said Roy.
A potential dark horse candidate within the 5A SIC is Eagle, which should be much improved behind the talents of explosive scorers Drew Lajoices and Tanner Hayhurst.
Combined with Connor Cooper, the talent pool for the Mustangs should keep them in games throughout the year.
“I am most excited about the level of commitment to the common goals of our program and the coachability of the guys we have on our team this year. There isn’t a lot of difference between players one through ten which will create some great competition in our practices,” said coach Ranstrom.
“They are strong at each position and will create matchup difficulties for a lot of teams,” added Sanor.
Mountain View is looking to replace one of the premier players in the 5A SIC in Jalen Galloway, who is now at the College of Idaho. Cooper Anderson also graduated, meaning the Mavericks will be replacing 35 points per game of scoring combined and 15 rebounds between the two.
Fortunately the roster does see plenty of pieces coming back, including Dallen Perrin, Camille Massaad and Ethan Ojukwu.
“We have most of our players back, but their roles will have to change this year. We lost most of our scoring to graduation, so this season we will look to our entire roster to increase their scoring and rebounding. Team chemistry isn’t an issue, as the players have been with each other all summer except for one new player to our team,” said Mountain View head coach Jon Nettleton.
Expect the Mavericks to apply lots of pressure on the defensive side of the floor.
“We will get after it with an aggressive man-to-man defense and we will run our motion offense again this season. We will need some time to figure out a few things, as we lost a lot of our scoring from last season,” added Nettleton.
The 5A SIC is tied for the biggest conference in Idaho with the 1AD2 Sawtooth out of district four. One of the things that has become expected within the SIC is that any team can beat any other on a given night, meaning each team enters the season with aspirations of making a state run this season.
Timberline is hoping to enter right into that conversation in year one on the sideline for new head coach Travis Noble, who was most recently an assistant at Walla Walla Community College.
Honorable Mention All-Conference guard Andy Ford returns for the Wolves, along with forwards Andy Peters and Graham Elder and a trio of tough guards in Cooper Atkinson, Nick Zenner and Jake Stranzl.
With the new coach in the fold, the team seems to be buying in to the new philosophy.
“Players seem to be bought in on working hard each day and playing for the guy next to you. Family-like,” said Noble.
In the new system, look for the Wolves to have a defense-first mindset with a plan to grind games out on the offensive side of the floor with execution and discipline.
Similar to Mountain View, Centennial will be replacing a player that made a major impact within the 5A SIC, as sharpshooter Kam Modrow has graduated.
Back for the Patriots is the trio of Kolby Modrow, Kaden Padour and Dayne Koch, giving the team an inside and outside combination.
“We will be a scrappy defensive team that will apply a lot of pressure. We want to run a lot out of transition and be a disciplined offensive team,” said Centennial head coach Josh Aipperspach. “The team chemistry of this team is great.”
Skyview moves up to the 5A classification after making it to the third place game in 4A last year.
Just about everybody graduated from that team for the Hawks, meaning it will be a much different look this time around.
“Losing ten seniors off of last year’s team, I’m most excited to get to know this new group of players and to see what is the best way for us to play in order for them to be successful. I’m also excited to see how they compete in the toughest league in the state in the 5A SIC,” said Skyview head coach Aaron Sanders.
Brady Taylor and Parker Jones are the returners for the team, with players like Nathaniel Vasquez, Graiden Zweigle, Mason Perrine and Evan Harmon all coming up from JV.
Despite a new group, look for Skyview to continue to go fast.
“Offensively we like to push the ball and look for easy scoring opportunities early. If nothing is open we like to run a variety of set plays to try to put our players in good positions to score. Defensively we like to play a variety of different defenses depending on our personnel. Some years we press a lot and others a lot of zone. Some years we play a lot of half court man,” added Sanders.
He thinks his team has the ability to surprise some people this year within conference play.
“I think we can. We graduated a lot of seniors and are moving up from 4A to 5A, so I think it could be easy for people to underestimate us. I think if we can adjust to 5A and overcome some inexperience we should be able to go out and compete and surprise some people.”
Capital is another team that loses multiple key pieces, with five seniors departing from the roster of a year ago.
Kade Sorenson and Ryan Hibbs are the returning starters, with some interesting talent around them including Kobe Niehoff, Alec Weber and Aiden Fox.
“The core returners we have, along with the addition of some great young talent, has made for an exciting offseason. We had great results at some of the summer basketball tourneys and camps that we participated in. The chemistry the guys have built together is something we hope to see translate into success this season,” said Capital head coach Scott Moore.
To string together wins in the always tough 5A SIC, the Eagles will be looking to outwork opponents and play tough hard-nosed basketball.
“We want to bring a toughness to the defensive side of the ball and establish a gritty style of play. Offensively, we’ll look to push the ball and create opportunities for our scorers. We will look to improve throughout the season, and the goal will be to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year,” added Moore.