Written by: Matt Harris
3A Mountain Rivers Conference (District 6)
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
3. South Fremont
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pasen Michaelson, Sugar-Salem
Hadley Miller, Junior, Sugar-Salem
Gerohm Rihari, Senior, Sugar-Salem
Tag Bair, Sophomore, South Fremont
Kyler Yancey, Senior, South Fremont
Luke Thompson, Sophomore, Teton
Satchel Heinen, Senior, Teton
A new year and a new look for the Mountain Rivers Conference in District 6.
With Shelley High School rising to the 4A classification, that leaves Sugar-Salem, South Fremont, and Teton to battle it out for 1.25 bids to the state tournament.
“With Shelley gone now it’s just a three team conference, so we are all definitely going to get to know each other very well,” said South Fremont head coach Ryon Pope.
Last season, both Shelley and Sugar-Salem represented the district at the 3A state tournament. Shelley fell in the third place game to archrival Snake River, while Sugar-Salem earned the consolation trophy with a win over Kellogg in double overtime.
The preseason coaches poll has Sugar-Salem as the league favorite entering the season. The Diggers, who went 22-8 last year, bring back a plethora of talent to the court including a good amount of shooters.
For head coach Shawn Freeman, the Diggers’ ability to shoot will be crucial to their success this year.
“Hitting open shots is vital,” he said. “We have to rebound and play tough defense to be successful this season.”
Sugar-Salem returns talent all over the floor, including guards Hadley Miller, Curtis Drake, Pasen Michaelson, and Brysen Barr. The frontlines feature Tanner Harris and Kyler Handy.
Freeman said to expect guards Rylan Bean, Crew Clark, and Gerohm Rihari to have a big impact this year. Rihari, who transferred in from Bonneville, started for the Bees last season.
“The kids are very competitive and work hard,” he said. “There is a unique chemistry with these boys and I’m excited to see them gel together. They are quick and are better shooters this season.”
Teams know what to expect when facing Sugar-Salem: aggressive defense, balanced offense, and great effort. They will be facing much of the same once again this season.
Just seven miles north in St. Anthony, the South Fremont Cougars are hoping to be able to get back to their identity this year after struggling to a 6-16 record a year ago. The Cougars, who were a relatively young team last season, feel that the lumps they took last year will only benefit them heading into the new campaign.
“Last year was a tough one, for sure,” said Cougars head coach Ryon Pope. “I am excited to get a fresh start. We showed some good improvement over the summer, so hopefully we will feel the results of that.”
South Fremont brings back several players who saw plenty of court time, including guards Nick Hammond and Talon Maupin along with forwards Kyler Yancey and Tag Bair. Edwin Smith and Jace Neville will man the post for the Cougars.
Pope added that he expects good contributions from senior Kyle Orme on the block along with sophomores Dallin Orme, Bridger Erickson, and Bridger Poulson on the guard line.
He also knows where their advantage lies: on the interior.
“Our team size is good, so we should be tough on the boards and in defending the paint,” said Pope, adding that his crew is much more experienced this year and should be improved from last year. “We still need to [to work] on our ball-handling and outside shooting.”
Meanwhile, over in Driggs, the Teton Redskins are preparing for what they feel could be a breakout season.
Teton, which has struggled the past couple of seasons including a 4-20 record a year ago, bring back the most of any team in the Mountain Rivers Conference. Expect that to pay off for the Redskins.
“This year’s team has more experience and plays harder,” said Teton head coach Rob Heuseveldt.
Back in the fold are guards Hyrum Heuseveldt, Fletcher Wartig, and Carson Reilly, along with forwards Satchel Heinen, Dusty Hess, Xander Vontz, and Tanner Danielson. Luke Thompson will man the middle from the center position.
Look for juniors Harrison Moulton and Treven Warburton to have an impact on the frontlines as well.
The returning talent along with the depth and size that Teton possesses will aid their goal of being a scrappy defensive team that pressures the ball, according to Heuseveldt.
Overall, despite the loss of Shelley from the league, the Mountain Rivers Conference should be as competitive as ever.
“The talent level is very high in the conference and it will be very competitive,” said South Fremont’s Ryon Pope. “Sugar is still the favorite, so if Teton or South puts things together, either team has the talent to surprise Sugar.”