Written by: Lucas Gebhart
1AD1 High Desert Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
3. Butte County
4. Taylor’s Crossing
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mitch Cotant, Senior, Challis
Ross Sheppeard, Senior, Challis
Parker May, Senior, Challis
Camm Jorgensen, Senior, Grace
Theo Wood, Junior, Grace
Stockton Lloyd, Junior, Grace
Bridger Hansen, Junior, Butte County
Brady McAffee, Junior, Butte County
The High Desert Conference is doubling in size this season with the addition of Butte County, a school that has made the move up from 1AD2, and Taylor’s Crossing, a charter school that recently added varsity sports that is located in Idaho Falls.
Grace won the two-team conference last season after finishing 18-7 and beating Challis in back-to-back games at West Jefferson High School in the district tournament. The Grizzlies finished in third place at the 1AD1 state tournament last season after beating Oakley in the quarterfinals and falling to Lapwai in the state semifinals. Grace defeated Ambrose, 65-61, to bring home the 3rd place trophy.
But this year’s Grace team will look far different than it did a season ago, as the Grizzlies graduated all five starters.
“Losing five seniors isn’t going to be devastating,” Grace head coach Rory Lloyd told the Idaho State Journal last month. “We have great kids coming back.”
What the Grizzlies do return is a couple seniors and some height.
Camm Jorgensen, Theo Wood and Stockton Lloyd are back in a Grace uniform this season and will be expected to make key contributions in placement of the lost seniors.
Grace has as many as eight players who could see quality playing time on the varsity roster and three of those players are 6-foot-3 or taller, which will give the Grizzlies a significant advantage on the boards.
But it is Grace’s old counterpart, Challis, which returns a heavy load of varsity experience. Sixth year head coach Jerod Farr said his team will be deeper and more improved than it was a season ago when it finished with a .500 record.
“I’m excited for our returners and the depth of our bench,” Farr said. “They all play well together and have some quality senior leadership.”
Those seniors include Mitch Cotant, Ross Sheppeard, who were both First Team All-Conference selections last season, and Garrett Millick and Parker May. Carson Ammar, a junior guard, is a player up from JV that Farr said will be making significant contributions.
Challis is looking for its first state tournament appearance since the 2014 tournament when it made a run to the state title game where the Vikings lost to Prairie, 78-43. The Vikings went 19-8 that season.
Butte County missed out on the 1AD2 state tournament last season after finishing 10-12.
The Pirates will be directed by first year head coach Radley Gamett, but will be without Brett Waymire, Dylan Beard, Grant Waddoups-Hamm and Kalib Hawley, who all graduated last season.
This will not be the Pirates first venture up to 1AD1, as Butte County won the 2013 1AD1 state tournament over Kamiah, the second of two state titles in school history.
Taylor’s Crossing will join Butte County as being a new member to the conference, as the Eagles are new to the Idaho high school basketball landscape, meaning there are still quite a few unknowns for Ryan Hatch’s squad.
The Eagles are still seeking their first win as a program and lost to Grace earlier this month, 53-14.