1AD1 Western Idaho Conference Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Liberty Charter
6. Greenleaf Friends
7. Victory Charter
8. North Star Charter
9. Idaho City
11. Compass Charter
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Madison Hodnett, Sophomore, Liberty Charter
Bridget Maw, Senior, Liberty Charter
Sintia Varela, Sophomore, Rimrock
Maggie Liebich, Senior, Riverstone
Malia Good, Junior, Ambrose
Kylin Olsen, Junior, Greenleaf Friends
Camilla Dukelow, Junior, North Star Charter
Parity is the best word to describe the 1AD1 Western Idaho Conference, where a handful of teams enter the season with realistic aspirations of taking home a conference crown.
Liberty Charter enters as the favorite in the preseason coaches poll, led by sophomore All-State post Madison Hodnett and senior guard Bridget Maw.
“This team is very coachable. I am excited to see how the underclassmen contribute. I am also excited to see where our post play may take us,” said fourth year Patriots head coach Brad McCain.
McCain’s team will be playing without Conference MVP Madison Dodge and team leader Cory Hamblin.
With the graduation of that duo, expect a little bit different of a look this season.
“We will focus a little more on the half-court offense this year rather than our transitional early offense. This team has the ability to control the tempo of the game and own the possession of the ball,” added McCain.
He is looking forward to seeing how the style of his team plays out on the floor.
“We play a team defense where we look to help each other out. We will play mainly man defense, but will be adding a few new wrinkles this year. We are going to control the boards on both sides of the floor, but especially on the offensive end. We have two 6-footers and we should never get out-rebounded. Second chance points will be crucial for us this year.”
Expect Liberty Charter to get a good test from a Rimrock team that brings back just about everybody including Sintia Varela.
“Rimrock surprised people last year with their young team and has most of their kids back. They are typically pretty aggressive and will get after people,” said Greenleaf Friends head coach Karri Fisk.
Fisk also mentioned Riverstone as a team she saw some good things out of a year ago.
The Otters went 10-9 last season and bring back All-Conference senior forward Maggie Liebich.
“I’m very excited to have seven returning seniors and all of my starters from last year,” said Riverstone head coach Roy Ledesma. “This year we are more comfortable with each other and we have good chemistry. Our team plays tenacious defense, which feeds our up-tempo style of play.”
“They have a lot of lengthy athletic players and they put in work this summer,” added McCain.
Anna Frizzell, Zoe Peterson and incoming freshman center Kaija Zoller are some of the other players to watch this season for the Otters.
Ambrose and Notus were selected as fourth and fifth respectively in the preseason coaches poll.
The Archers bring back explosive junior guard Malia Good, who is one of the best scoring threats in the conference, making them a dangerous team.
Greenleaf Friends has all five starters back on the floor from a year ago, with the Grizzlies showing positive strides in year one under Karri Fisk.
The hope now is to keep everybody healthy for as much of the year as possible.
“We have more depth this year. We struggled with injuries last season. Being able to rest people will hopefully cut down on some of that. We won quite a few games last year and the expectation is there again this year,” said Fisk.
Kylin Olsen, Katie Sams, Sarah Ralstin, Olivia Fisk and Kylah Fillmore are the returning starters, with Grace Dixon, Molly Thomas and Kirah Fillmore ready to provide much-needed depth this year.
“It’s their second year with the new system and we are seeing quite a bit of improvement in player skills. They are working well together and seem to have great team chemistry,” added Fisk. “We tend to play up-tempo both on offense and defense. The kids like to get out and run. Across the board we are not real big. We need to improve our rebounding in order to consistently be able to get the transition game going.”
Beyond the preseason top six, North Star Charter could be a sleeper pick, with second year head coach Shad Bertsch bringing back Camilla Dukelow, Mary Meeks and Sarah Sandberg from last year.