5A Southern Idaho Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Mountain View
5. Rocky Mountain
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Darian White, Senior, Mountain View
Trinity Slocum, Sophomore, Mountain View
Meghan Boyd, Senior, Eagle
Sydney Davis, Senior, Boise
Peyton McFarland, Junior, Boise
Elena McHargue, Senior, Timberline
Ava Ranson, Junior, Timberline
Riley Frith, Senior, Rocky Mountain
Brittney Hansen, Senior, Meridian
Jaleesa Lawrence, Sophomore, Meridian
Mallory Hatfield, Sophomore, Centennial
Nyalam Thabach, Senior, Borah
Kylee Geis, Senior, Borah
Lauren Baumgartner, Senior, Capital
Can someone surpass Eagle at the top of the 5A SIC standings this year? It appears the coaches within the conference think so, as they selected Mountain View as the preseason favorite heading into the new campaign.
The Mavericks have talented pieces all over the floor including dynamic guards Trinity Slocum and Darian White, plus five other returners who combine to make this a dangerous team.
Mountain View will be an even tougher out this year with interior presence Naya Ogukwu joining the roster as a freshman.
“We have more size inside than last year,” said Mountain View head coach Connie Skogrand. “We have seven returners from last year [and] a balanced team with guards and posts.
Replacing standout guard Alison Chanhthala will be an early season priority for the group.
As always, despite losses of key players, Eagle is expected to be right up towards the top of the conference standings all season long with Meghan Boyd and Jaimee McKinnie each returning.
“It will be interesting to see how [Boyd] plays without last year’s seniors around her,” said Borah head coach Whitney Kenyon, referring to graduated players like Janie King, McKenna Emerson and Katelyn Murray.
While everyone expects Eagle and Mountain View to be strong on a yearly basis, teams like Boise, Timberline, Rocky Mountain and Meridian all have the pieces in place to be able to make runs at a conference title this season.
“This will likely be one of my strongest teams in regards to depth, which will allow us to press and pressure more than we have in past years,” said Boise head coach Kim Brydges. “Our program is typically known for team play on both sides of the ball and while we do want to push tempo in transition, we also exhibit patience on the offensive end to work for the best possible shot.”
The Braves bring back all five starters from a team that won 16 games last season, including dominant post Peyton McFarland and playmaking guard Sydney Davis. Honorable Mention All-SIC forward Madison Williams and guards Allison Ross and Claire Bonnet round out the returning starters.
For a team that had plenty of success a year ago, there are now increased expectations with the additional year of experience that each player possesses.
“I’m very excited to build on last season’s success. We had excellent chemistry in our summer season and all players have made significant individual growth since last February,” added Brydges.
Fellow Boise School District foe Timberline welcomes in former Middleton head coach Andy Jones to its sideline and should see some instant success under his leadership.
The Wolves return three starters in Ava Ranson, Elene McHargue and Ashlyn Asuena-Marcil.
“We have three returning starters on the perimeter with excellent talent and experience,” said Jones. “We will be working on trying to establish an identity in the first part of the season. I hope to build a team that values rebounding, defense and playing together.”
Other coaches expect Timberline to win plenty of games this year.
“I don’t think it will be too big of a surprise because they have a lot of talent,” said Rocky Mountain head coach William Rodgers.
Rodgers, in his first year on the sidelines for the Grizzlies, has a team that other coaches say will be tough as well.
“Will has done a great job already in getting girls committed to his philosophy. I was impressed with what I saw from them this summer,” said Meridian head coach Matthew Creech.
Honorable Mention All-SIC wing Riley Frith leads the way for Rocky Mountain, with Jada Reed and Mandy Berg a couple of the other options to put the ball in the basket.
Similar to what was seen from the Caldwell teams that Rodgers coached, expect to see the Grizzlies be very aggressive to try get teams out of rhythm.
“We are athletic and hopefully will be able to create turnovers that will lead to transition baskets. Our athleticism will allow us to use several different defensive sets,” said Rodgers.
Now it comes down to how fast the group can gel and adapt to the new system.
“I wasn’t here last year, however I would say that they have learned what they did wrong last year and are eager to correct those mistakes, so we can grow as a team and compete,” added Rodgers. “I am excited to see how they adjust to me as their head coach. We have several returning players from last year, as well as some younger players that will help our team compete.”
Then we get to the team that enters this season with plenty of potential to alter the conference pecking order, the Meridian Warriors.
Just like Boise, the Warriors returns all five starters and seven total players from a year ago, giving them plenty of experience.
“They have an excellent core of talented athletes that have played together for a few years now and they’re ready for their chance to show the league what they’re made of,” said Capital head coach Ron Marthe.
The returning starters for Meridian are Brittney Hansen, Graci Kolka, Trinity Berger, Sophia Klinger and Jaleesa Lawrence, with Mary Mpoyo and Taylor Watson the other returners.
Combined with incoming guards Maddie Wing, Sydney Shaughnessy and forward DeeAnn White, a senior transfer from Alaska who was the 1A Player of the Year in that state, the cupboard is certainly full of talent.
“We have seven returners with all five starters coming back, so the team looks very similar, however this group has a much better understanding of what we are trying to accomplish on the court and how to go about making that happen. I don’t have to coach this group through as much because they already know and understand,” said Creech.
The coach likes the amount of options on both sides of the floor that his team has.
“We are very balanced from the standpoint that a lot of our girls can do different things. Any given night a different girl can step up and be top dog, which will make us hard to prepare for. We are still one of the smaller schools in the 5A SIC, so rebounding will be an emphasis for us, as it was last year.”
Now it is all about seeing how it shapes out on the floor this season against quality opponents on a nightly basis in the 5A SIC, something Meridian is excited for.
“I’m most excited about seeing these girls compete with the rest of the state. This group has great chemistry and holds each other to a high standard, so seeing them put all their hard work in this summer and fall to use this winter is very exciting to me,” added Creech.
Mallory Hatfield leads the way for Centennial, which has multiple key pieces to replace this year after winning 15 games a season ago.
The Patriots lost nine of their last 13 games last year after starting the season hot and will be hoping to build positive momentum early in the season.
Borah lost team staples Alyssa Bolt, Alesia Jones and Maddie Geritz and will be looking to younger players to step up in a big way.
“I’m excited because we are really young. We have four freshmen up that are very versatile. We only have three returners from last season’s state contender team, so it’s a brand new team with tons of young energy,” said first year head coach Whitney Kenyon.
SIC Honorable Mention returners Nyalam Thabach and Kylee Geis highlight the roster for the Lions, with freshmen Jayden McNeal and Maddie Montoya promising building blocks.
Borah will play up-tempo and be aggressive on defense in hopes of leading to easy shots on the other end of the floor.
After going 18-7 last season, Capital has a much different look as well, including on the sideline, where Ron Marthe takes over after spending six seasons as an assistant.
He is excited for a large core of players to step into larger roles this year.
“I have some senior ‘program players’ that finally get their chance to shine. Annee Woozley, Lucy Jacobsen, Anna Ramos and Emily Fales will be counted on to pick up the slack by our departing seniors. I’m most excited for Lauren ‘Goober’ Baumgartner to step up and take on the scoring load for us,” added Marthe.
It will be tough with all of the departed seniors from last year, but the Eagles are ready for the challenge.
“We lost a great deal of length, experience and scoring. This year’s team will have to rely on teamwork and hustle. We lack the dynamic scorers and playmakers from last year’s state team,” said Marthe. “We’re going to be a hard-nosed, scrappy team on both ends of the floor. We won’t win many style points, but we will play hard and do whatever is necessary to keep games close.”
Skyview was picked last in the preseason coaches poll after moving up to the 5A classification this season and will have a difficult task on a nightly basis against the always tough opponents residing within the 5A SIC.