1AD2 Sawtooth Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
6. Lighthouse Christian
8. Camas County
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Shantell Chavez, Carey
Athana Versis, Carey
Kylie Wood, Carey
Matigan Bingham, Dietrich
Brianna Astle, Dietrich
Alan Floyd, Hagerman
Elly Yore, Hagerman
Jenna Benites, Murtaugh
Yolanda Alaniz, Hansen
Trudy Millenkamp, Lighthouse Christian
Shelby Buckner, Richfield
Ashlynn Whittle, Camas County
Sydney Schoth, Castleford
With Carey and Dietrich each entering the season with plenty of talented pieces back, the Panthers and Blue Devils begin the new year as the favorites in the 1AD2 Sawtooth Conference according to the preseason coaches poll.
Shantell Chavez, Athana Versis and Kylie Wood lead the way for Carey, while Matigan Bingham and Brianna Astle are the players to watch for Dietrich.
The lone meeting between the two schools occurs on January 22, so there is a lot of work to do for each side prior to then.
One of the new challenges for the upper echelon of the 1AD2 Snake River Conference is Hagerman, which drops down from the 1AD1 ranks.
[Hagerman] is new to our conference and kind of an unknown. Talented team that should challenge for a playoff spot,” said Richfield head coach Buck Hendren.
The Pirates are led by Second Team All-Conference returning guard Alana Floyd and Honorable Mention All-Conference post Elly Yore.
Marina Acuna is another senior for a team that does not have a surplus of numbers heading into the year.
“We are few in numbers and we will see how that impacts us early on in the season. Last year we were a senior-heavy team and now we are a little younger and less-refined,” said Hagerman head coach Derrick Lyons.
With the group of seniors that are in place however, the coach is looking forward to seeing them with another year of experience under their belt.
“We are excited for our senior group that has proven that they can play with anybody in the area. We hope that they can help our younger players grow as we are few in numbers.”
Kyta Sellers, Krista Farnsworth and Sadie Wadsworth are other players who will be expected to make big impacts this year for the Pirates.
“We should continue in being a transition team, but hope that our half-court game improves as well. We have been able to get to the rim, but our foul shooting needs to improve to complement our aggressiveness. Overall, we need to keep our turnovers down and continue to improve our defense to be successful against the level of competition in our conference,” added Lyons.
Murtaugh and Hansen each have sleeper potential within the conference.
Behind the merits of a coach who has won state titles in multiple locations during his time on sidelines, the Red Devils are a popular pick to surprise.
“Murtaugh has all the tools to be successful this season. That includes a deep roster and a coach [Todd Jensen] with a lot of experience,” said Lyons.
Coaches like Hansen as well, another team that is well-coached.
“They are a very disciplined team,” said Castleford head coach Jaston Tverdy.
Yolanda Alaniz leads the way for the Huskies, while Jenna Benites is a player to watch for Murtaugh.
Trudy Millenkamp was listed as a player to look out for on the floor this year for Lighthouse Christian, which was picked sixth in the preseason poll.
Meanwhile in Richfield, everybody comes back, leaving the Tigers with a good amount of experience.
“We didn’t lose anyone, and with everyone a year older and contributions from a couple of freshman, I expect this team to be much improved over last year,” said Hendren. “With a roster full of returning players, I hope to build on the foundation we set last year. I’m excited to see how we progress throughout the season.”
Shelby Buckner was a Second Team All-Conference selection from the forward position last year and has seven other returners around her in addition to incoming freshmen Ady Perkes and Mackenzie Riley.
With more depth than the program has had in recent years, it should help with the style that the Tigers like to play.
“Defensively we want to keep pressure on the ball and force other teams into making mistakes. Offensively we want to execute correctly and have a lot of people scoring points,” added Hendren.
Camas County and Castleford were selected eighth and ninth in the preseason coaches poll.
For the Wolves, the focus is simple.
“We need to score more points and rebound better,” said Tverdy.
Junior point guard Sydney Schoth and senior forward Madelyn March are expected to lead the way on the floor for Castleford this season.