4A Southern Idaho Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
2. Bishop Kelly
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Zoey Moore, Junior, Middleton
Lexi Mitchell, Senior, Middleton
Monica Behrend, Senior, Bishop Kelly
Gabby Keefe, Senior, Bishop Kelly
Jalen Callender, Senior, Caldwell
Katrina Vallejo, Junior, Caldwell
Gracee Gustin, Sophomore, Kuna
Jasmyne Boles, Junior, Vallivue
Hanna Seabaugh, Junior, Nampa
Maddie Crume, Senior, Emmett
Despite welcoming in a new head coach to the sideline in Nichole Williamson, Middleton enters the season as favorites in the 4A SIC preseason coaches poll.
The Vikings bring back multiple key pieces including Zoey Moore and Lexi Mitchell. That duo stacks up well with just about anybody in the state and will make Williamson’s team a tough out on a nightly basis.
There are multiple challengers this season for a conference crown though.
Bishop Kelly brings back starters Olivia Kent, Gabby Keefe and Monica Behrend from last year, but loses two-time State Player of the Year Lydia Nieto and Second Team All-State post Theresa Reeping.
“A new season brings a new team. We are searching to find our identity and what makes us tick,” said Bishop Kelly head coach Derek McCormick.
For a program that has won three of the last four district championships, the Knights have to like their chances again with three starters and five total returners coming back.
Caldwell is replacing head coach William Rodgers, who helped lead the program towards the top of the conference standings the last few years.
While Rodgers is gone, coaches in the conference expect the Cougars to still be a major contender with Ashley Green on the sideline and talent like Jalen Callender, Katrina Vallejo and Jade Martinez all back.
“Caldwell brings back a ton of experienced players. While it may not be a surprise to see them in the top half of the standings, they're definitely a dark horse candidate to take the conference belt,” said Nampa head coach Jack Dooley.
Similar to the style under the previous coach, expect Caldwell to push the tempo on each side of the floor.
“We are a run and gun team. We like a fast-paced game and we love to fast break. We play tenacious defense. We love to press and the turnovers off our press fuel us,” said Green. “We attack the basket well and call also pull up and hit jumpers. We will need to improve on rebounding and our free throw percentage this year to have the success we want.”
Overall, she really likes the experience of the group.
“We are a mature experienced team returning several starters who are thirsty for a trophy. We are focused on grinding it out 100 percent in practice every day knowing that every day brings us one day closer to that goal. Team chemistry was a focus for me coming in and the girls have each other’s backs this year. We are playing for each other and we are truly united in our vision.”
Kuna lost seven seniors from the roster of a season ago and will look quite different as a result.
“After losing seven seniors we have very little to compare, with so many new faces filling in roles. We also only have two seniors in the program, adding to the need for girls to step up,” said first year head coach Dennis Jordan.
Guard Mattiekay Rackham is one of the seniors, while Miaja Mills, Gracee Gustin and Lexy Haws are expected to make large impacts around her.
Miannah Davies is a junior guard/forward talent that was listed as a newcomer to watch.
“A very young group with a lot of upside. What we lack in experience we make up for with energy and chemistry,” added Jordan. “Pressure defense is our emphasis and controlling the ball on offense. We have to maintain our culture of being able to defend and add to it a better ability to score on offense in the half court.”
Vallivue and Columbia were selected to finish fifth and sixth respectively in the preseason coaches poll.
The Falcons lost star wing Sarah Reinecker, along with fellow backcourt mates Ashlee Montes and Alexis Myers.
Fortunately talent like Jasmyne Boles comes back and should keep Vallivue in games this season as they transition to some of the new pieces in the program.
Columbia won zero games against varsity competition last year, but drops down to 4A this season and hopes to experience some more success against the new conference foes.
A new head coach is on the sideline for Nampa in Jack Dooley, as the Bulldogs also move down to the 4A ranks.
Guards Hanna Seabaugh and Angele Rodriguez combine with forward Sativa Campbell to give hope that things will head in the right direction in the near future for the program.
Each of those three talents are juniors, leaving the new coach with plenty of optimism.
Plus, they have a pretty good shooting weapon.
“Sophomore Madeline Ehinger's elite shooting ability adds a solid punch to uptick in our offensive production from a season ago. She has really worked hard on creating a consistent 3-point shot this offseason, and her ability to knock down threes at a high clip will create a lot of driving lanes and openings for the whole offense,” added Dooley.
Look for lots of aggressiveness on the defensive end of the floor.
“We will look to increase our number of offensive possessions by playing tenacious defense. With a heavy emphasis on increasing pace with play, it is paramount to have keen shot selection and learn to limit turnovers before having a tough January schedule,” said Dooley.
Multiple coaches throughout the 4A SIC mentioned that Emmett is well-coached under new head coach Stu Peterson.
The Huskies however lost Lillie Smith and Lexi Child and will be relying on Maddie Crume and five other returners with varsity experience to reload.
“Seeing that this is my first season I can only base it off of what I watched last year. I notice that we are lacking a couple of girls who were leaders and very strongly skilled, but what we lack in skill this year, we can make up for in effort,” said Peterson.
He senses the buy-in already.
“We have created a new atmosphere here in Emmett. We are passionate about the sport and getting players to communicate and play hard on every possession. We celebrate every win, small or large, and we plan on building a strong culture for the years to follow.”
The Huskies are another team that will play aggressive.
“We are an aggressive team that will challenge each team offensively. We are loud and physical and will get up and down the court. We are in a building year and we will face challenges both offensively and defensively, but we plan on improving each game,” added Peterson.
Ridgevue was selected ninth out of nine teams in the preseason coaches poll and has new head coach Amos Lee taking over the program. The Warhawks won just two games a season ago and are hoping to get things headed in the right direction this time around.