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Sandpoint High School

School Info
Conference: 4A Inland Empire League
Classification: 4A

Sandpoint High School Team Bio

Head Coach: Dave Engelson

Years as Head Coach: 1st Season

Record Last Year: 6-16

State Titles: None

Returning Players:
Alex Stockton

Conference Preview

4A Inland Empire League

Written by: Will Hoenike

1. Lakeland
2. Moscow
3. Sandpoint

Gabe Quinnett, Moscow
Ben Postell, Moscow
Alex Stockton, Sandpoint
Jalen Skalskiy, Lakeland
Josiah Haaland, Lakeland

Back in March of 2013, the Moscow Bears came two points away from winning the 4A state championship, falling in a heartbreaker against Rigby. It’s been a tough road since then for the 4A Inland Empire League at the state-tournament level.

The IEL hasn’t produced a quarterfinal win since Moscow’s run to the title game in 2013 and, as a league, its teams have won just one game in the past five years, while losing ten.

Could this spring’s 2019 state tournament see a reversal of fortune for the district’s representative at the state tournament?

“Lakeland is loaded with athletes, they will be a tough matchup for anyone because of their size and shooting ability,” Moscow head coach Josh Uhrig said of his 4A IEL rival. “Sandpoint is always dangerous. Their physicality and hard-work mentality causes tons of problems.”

The Bulldogs, coached by Wade Engelson, have not reached the 4A state tournament in boys basketball since 2009 but this year’s team features one of the elite athletes in the state in Alex Stockton. Stockton is considered a hot commodity in football and baseball recruiting circles, but his basketball skills have also earned praise.

“He’s a big, physical player that is really smooth around the basket,” Uhrig said of Stockton. “He is the type of player that can just will his team to a win.”

Sandpoint won five straight games at one point last season, but were not able to keep pace in IEL play with Lakeland or Moscow.

Uhrig’s Bears, who represented the league at the state tournament last spring, return six key players, including all-league guard Gabe Quinnett. Quinnett, whose father (Brian) played at nearby Washington State as well as the NBA’s New York Knicks, leads a group that will rely on speed to compete in 2018-19.

“We’ve got a faster, longer team this year,” Uhrig said of his Moscow team. “Not much post height, but lots of length on the perimeter. Our guards will be asked to defend the post and bang bodies for boards.

Ben Postell returns in the post for Moscow but, as Uhrig said, this team will likely make its hay on the perimeter. Quinnett, sophomore Benny Kitchel and seniors Derek Rauch-Edwards, Ryan Makamson and Alex Haeder will be key to the Bears’ success this season.

Rival Lakeland has some size coming back this winter, featuring senior post Josiah Haaland and sophomores Noah Haaland and Aamon Munier. But, like Moscow, the Hawks will not be shy about pushing the tempo when the opportunity presents itself.

“I think we move the ball well and don’t shoot it too bad,” said seventh-year Lakeland head coach Dave Stockwell. “We need to be better defenders and rebounders.”

One of the key pieces of the puzzle for Lakeland is sophomore wing Jalen Skalskiy. If the 6-foot-5 Skalskiy can find the next gear, so to speak, after being named the IEL’s Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, Lakeland will be tough to beat. The Hawks also feature a backcourt that includes senior Jeret Taylor and juniors Josh Neilson, Ben Zubaly and sophomore Carson Sey.

Is this the year the IEL breaks back through at the state-tournament level? The league’s representative usually comes into the state tournament unheralded and somewhat unknown, considering it usually plays a large portion of its non-conference schedules against non-Idaho and non-4A teams. Last year’s representative, Moscow, only played six games against 4A Idaho competition.

But that’s not to say the Bears played a soft schedule. To the contrary, Moscow also played six games against members of the 5A IEL and have six more on the schedule this winter.

We’ll find out together if the Hawks, Bears or Bulldogs can end the drought and make a run at the 4A state tournament in March.

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