1AD2 Long Pin Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Garden Valley
2. Salmon River
5. Horseshoe Bend
7. Meadows Valley
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Covy Kelly, Sophomore, Garden Valley
Randy McClure, Senior, Salmon River
Orion Southwick, Senior, Tri-Valley
Michael Barnett, Senior, Tri-Valley
Wyatt Stocks, Senior, Cascade
Michael Onaindia, Junior, Cascade
Quade Renfro, Senior, Horseshoe Bend
Braden Nichols, Junior, Council
As far as 1AD2 boys basketball in Idaho goes, it appears the Long Pin may have as much parity as anywhere in the state.
Entering the new year Garden Valley was the preseason coaches poll favorite, with a new head coach on the sideline and a youthful roster with lots of promise.
“This team will be younger, as we lost 5 seniors from last year’s team and only have one senior and a couple of juniors this year. Young group, but they play well together and have incredible team chemistry,” said Garden Valley head coach Joel LaFleur.
A player with as much talent as anyone in the conference takes the floor for the Wolverines for his sophomore season, as guard Covy Kelly looks to have a huge year in an even larger role.
Kelly is joined by fellow sophomores Devin Yearsley, Kolten LaFleur, Hayden Elmore and Corban Fields to form a nice young core. Juniors Joaquin Fuhriman and Richard Lindstrom will also see plenty of minutes and make big impacts.
For the new coach, there are multiple reasons to be excited.
“Excited about a young team fully committed to the process of improving every day as basketball players. Playing fast, playing hard and playing smart. Kids who play for each other, unselfishly, always looking to set their teammates up and reveling in each other’s achievements. Getting a front row seat to the show that is Covy Kelly,” added LaFleur.
The new coach will employ an aggressive style on the defensive end of the floor.
“Pressure, pressure, pressure. Baskets in transition. Lockdown man-to-man defense and working continually to achieve flawless execution in half-court offense.”
While the Wolverines were selected as the preseason favorite, multiple other teams may have something else to say about that, with good depth in the conference.
Salmon River is one of those teams, with First Team All-Conference forward Randy McClure and guard Ethan Shepherd some of the notable returners.
“We only played five to six [players] last year. We have some young kids that can play, we have some size and we could have a deeper bench,” said Salmon River head coach Levi Tucker.
Guards Jimmy Tucker, Justin Whitten and Isaac Hofflander are all expected to make impacts as well.
“We have a little more experience that should allow us to play faster and score more,” added Tucker.
Height and experience is what makes the Savages a tough matchup entering the season.
“They have a 6-foot-7 transfer to add to a roster with another 6-foot-4 big man and they will return three starters from last year. Randy is solid athlete that can score the ball. Salmon River will have a good year if healthy,” said Tri-Valley head coach Barrett Morris.
Morris and his Titans should also remain tough despite losing Conference MVP Chip Mitchell and multiple other key pieces from what was a roster with a surplus of height last year.
Second Team All-State guard Orion Southwick will lead the way this year, along with Honorable Mention All-Conference guard Michael Barnett in the backcourt.
“The team we fielded last year was based on size and rebounding. This year’s team will be built on speed and shooting. It’d be fun to watch the two squads compete,” said Morris.
With Jayden Mink, Colt Uhlenkott and Cody Nix all back as well, in addition to the arrivals of Ty Barnett, Michael Carpenter, Garrett Bunker and Jerimiah Gibbons, look for the Titans to have good depth.
“We return three starters and two key contributors from our programs most successful season in the team’s history. Four of the five returning players saw significant minutes in last year’s regular season, districts and state. Adding to that, we’ll bring up four junior varsity players that will step-in and make an immediate impact. If healthy, this year’s team will be deep and have a high basketball IQ,” added Morris.
With just about every team in the conference looking like it has a shot at making a run at a conference title, the Cascade Ramblers hope to make some noise.
Wyatt Stocks and Michael Onaindia each earned All-Conference recognition last season and provide a good inside-out combo to lead the way.
“As long as we can overcome a few growing moments early in the season and come together we should be pretty good this year. It should be a fun year. I believe that this team has grown a lot even though they are still relatively young. We should be quicker, more athletic, well-balanced and have the ability to shoot this year,” said Cascade head coach Conor Kennedy.
A lot of the success will come from the strong shooters on the floor for the Ramblers.
“They have players and some kids that shoot the lights out,” said Tucker.
To make the most of the talent on the floor, there are some focus areas for the team.
“We need to play more aggressive defensively and spread the ball around on offense. I want to play fast this year compared to last,” added Kennedy.
Another challenger within the Long Pin is Horseshoe Bend, which moves down from 1AD1 this year.
Quade Renfro and Mike Farrar are a couple of the key pieces for the Mustangs, who should have a good season in year one in the new conference.
Meanwhile in Council, just like Garden Valley, the program welcomes a new head coach in Brodie Nichols to the sideline.
Braden Nichols and Sam Mahon are some of the players to watch for the Lumberjacks this year, with a younger look than what has been seen on the floor in recent years. That should mean continued growth throughout the season as the team gains valuable experience.
Meadows Valley won one game last season and is hoping to get a win on the board within conference play this time around.