2A Central Idaho League
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
2. St. Maries
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Noah Kaschmitter, Senior, Grangeville
Trey Dreadfulwater, Junior, Grangeville
Colby Kennedy, Senior, Grangeville
Blake Darr, Senior, Grangeville
Dan Howard, Senior, St. Maries
Jackson Pritchard, Senior, St. Maries
Tyler Lohman, Senior, St. Maries
Coy Sands, Senior, St. Maries
Kaden Hammond, Senior, St. Maries
Eli Gibson, Sophomore, St. Maries
Joe Sparano, Sophomore, Orofino
Peyton Daily, Senior, Orofino
With Grangeville and St. Maries returning a large amount of talent from each of their rosters of a year ago, the two teams remain the preseason favorites in the 2A Central Idaho League.
The Bulldogs enter as the choice to take the CIL crown in the preseason coaches poll, led by three All-League talents in Noah Kaschmitter, Blake Darr and Colby Kennedy, plus the return from injury of Troy Dreadfulwater.
“I really think Grangeville is going to be tough because of their size and athleticism. They have a lot of returners and that group plays really well together,” said Orofino head coach Justin Haag.
Kaschmitter and Kennedy provide an inside combination that will be tough for opponents to defend all season long, with both strength and size.
Expect Grangeville to get a big test in league play from St. Maries though.
The Lumberjacks lose 2A CIL MVP Glover Buell and post Kevin Duffield, but have plenty of inside and outside options that do return, including All-League guard Jackson Pritchard and All-League forward Dan Howard.
“I am excited about the strong nucleus coming back. Key will be sharing the ball. We have the depth and speed to keep the game fast-paced [and are] a strong defensive group. We will need to be able to knock down open jumpers. Daniel Howard is a strong post presence inside,” said St. Maries head coach Bryan Chase.
With players like Kaden Hammond, Tyler Lohman and Coy Sands back, the Lumberjacks should have no problem getting up and down the floor.
Three post players are moving up through the program and will see time on varsity this season, including Randi Becktel, Colby Renner and Tristan Nelson.
In previous years St. Maries has went with a two-post look traditionally, but this time around that may change.
“We will have to play with four or five guards on the floor at times. Keys will be more spacing on offense. More of a four or five-out offense,” added Chase.
Outside of St. Maries and Grangeville, Orofino is the only other team within the 2A CIL, with the Maniacs having much more experience than they had last season.
“Gaining a year of experience will be huge for us. Last year we had two players with varsity experience. This year we will return several that gave us good minutes a year ago. Guys have really put in a commitment to getting better over the summer and playing together as much as possible. Peyton Daily has been really devoted to becoming a better scorer and I’m excited for him this year. Austin Kelso is another kid who is explosive off the bounce and loves to get to the rim. The two of them will be important players for us,” said Coach Haag.
Sophomore guard Joe Sparano gives the team a new dimension as well, as he joins the varsity roster.
“Very athletic and works extremely hard. He loves basketball and will immediately impact our overall IQ and athleticism,” added Haag.
With athletic guards like Cody Isbelle and Jose Barajas, expect the team to try to keep the pace fast.
“We want to be fast-paced on both ends. Our on-ball defenders will be ferocious and hopefully force turnovers. We might be the shortest basketball team of all time, so we want to keep the ball out of the post and force guards to handle it as much as possible. On offense we want to try to score quickly and efficiently. Last year we were very poor in half-court offense, so improving in that area will be very important. Overall we do work hard as a team and we pride ourselves on being tough and well-conditioned,” said Haag.
Other teams expect Orofino to show strides in the right direction this year.
“I watched Orofino play this summer and they will be much improved from last year’s team,” explained Chase.