1AD2 White Pine League
Written by: Will Hoenike
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Landon Wahl, Nezperce
Cade Webster, Nezperce
Alex Crea, Highland
Alex Sneve, Kendrick
Talon Alexander, Kendrick
Bodee Swanson, Deary
Carson Sellers, Timberline
Rylan Larson, Timberline
Bennett Schlect, Logos
Ben Euhus, Logos
Nic Minudri, Logos
Unlike its Division 1 namesake, the 1A Division 2 White Pine League appears open to all comers in 2018-19, with no overwhelming consensus as far as a team (or teams) to beat in boys basketball this winter.
The Logos Knights won just three games last season but return most of the players off that team, which is a primary reason that several White Pine coaches are expecting a big move forward this season for the Knights.
“We are thankful to have our core group returning and for good senior leadership,” 18th-year head coach Matt Whitling said. “We are also excited about the incoming freshmen and the talent they will add to our program.”
Notably, Whitling and the Knights return four seniors, guards Bennett Schlect and Nic Minudri along with post players Ben Euhus and Nate Miller. Junior guard Isaac Blum also returns.
Another team looking to make a move up the standings this season is Nezperce. The Indians, coached by Mike Webster, won seven games last season but return all-conference honorees Landon Wahl and Jimmy Barnett along with fellow seniors Cade Webster and KJ Carpenter.
“We are looking forward to returning four seniors from last year’s varsity team,” Webster said. “These boys have played together throughout high school and have a lot of varsity experience.”
A team on the opposite end of the spectrum is Deary. The Mustangs reached the 1A Division 2 state tournament last season but Kendrick Jared, going into his second season as the head coach, returns just one varsity player with much experience – junior guard Bodee Swanson. All five starters and top two players off the bench last season were seniors.
However, that’s not to say this Deary roster will be full of fresh names and faces.
“Many of our new players have older relatives who were on the varsity squad last season or the season before,” Kirk said, pointing to London Kirk, the younger brother of last season’s White Pine Player of the Year, Jalen Kirk, along with Brayden Stapleton (Kirk’s cousin), Wyatt Loyd (brother, James, was a starter last season), Preston Johnson (brother, Parker, was a starter last season) and Nick Winter (brother, Seth, was White Pine Player of the Year in 2017).
Kendrick is another team that is transitioning in to new players in new roles this season.
“This team won’t be anywhere close to as experienced as last year’s team,” head coach Tim Silflow said. “We had three kids last year that had 3-4 years of varsity experience and this year we only have three that have seen limited varsity minutes.”
Silflow and the Tigers do return junior guard Alex Sneve, a tremendous athlete coming off of a strong football season, in the backcourt with junior Chase Burke and Talon Alexander.
Down the road in Craigmont, the Highland Huskies lost their leading scorer and leading rebounder from last season, opening roles for new players in 2018-19.
“We are installing a new defensive system this year that the players are really excited to try out,” head coach Patty Weeks said. “We need more patience on offense which will equal more success.”
Key to that success will be senior guard Alex Crea, as well as senior forward Ignacio Tinoco and senior post Nathan Case. Sophomores Harley Keller, Lane Wassmuth and Dalton Davis should also see increased opportunities for Highland.
Head coach John Bower at Timberline lost two first-team all-league players in Jack Rockwood and Tyler Cochrell, but has a bit of a secret weapon ready to unleash on the league.
“Chase Hunter was a freshman for us las year that would have played a lot of varsity minutes if not for his severe ankle injury,” Bower said. “He spent a lot of time in the weight room this summer and looks primed to show what he is capable of.”
Along with Hunter, Timberline returns Cameron Summerfeld, Carson Sellers and Rylan Larson to a team that could be a team to watch as the season progresses.
The league is guaranteed one berth into the state tournament in March. A second team plays a play-in game against the district runner-up from the Long Pin Conference (district three). At this point, picking which two teams will be in those two slots in February seems daunting, with virtually any team capable of getting hot and being in position to advance to the state tournament.