T-3. Thunder Ridge
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Britton Berrett, Rigby
Tanoa Togiai, Rigby
Keegan Thompson, Rigby
Brycen Uffens, Rigby
Mason Mickelsen, Highland
Ryan Shreve, Highland
Cedar Washakie, Highland
Easton Durham, Highland
Lloyer Driggs, Thunder Ridge
Kayden Toldson, Thunder Ridge
Carson Downey, Madison
Dawson Wills, Madison
Mark Williams, Madison
5A District 5-6 Preview
Written by Brandon Hill
Not so long ago, the Madison Bobcats ruled East Idaho, running nearly unopposed on their way to an A seed at state.
The Bobcats capped off their 25-4 season with a state championship appearance, eventually falling to Borah 62-50.
But 2018 could be a millennia ago, as the Bobcats enter one of the biggest rebuilding years in recent memory under the direction of three-year head coach Travis Schwab.
“Where we are so ‘inexperienced’ right now I’m not even sure of what we do well yet,” Schwab said. “I know that our guys will need to get way better on the defensive end and rebounding the basketball if we are going to be successful this season.”
After graduation decimated the stellar Bobcat roster, Schwab said his remaining three seniors and a handful of JV hotshots will need to step up and fill the shoes of last year’s stars. Madison carries on without the help of Spencer Hathaway, the team’s leading scorer, leading rebounder Jaden Schwab, and a strong defensive core in Kyle Jackson, Jordon Porter and Bohlder Murray.
In their place, senior guard Carson Downey, senior forward Dawson Wills and senior forward Mark Williams hope to propel the Bobcats to another fantastic season.
“I am really excited to see our seniors be the leaders of this team,” Schwab said. “Our seniors were juniors last year and they played behind our seniors for minutes on the floor, so it is their turn to be the leaders now. I am excited to see where they can take us as a team.”
Where the Bobcats may stumble, Rigby looks more than capable of taking their crown. The Trojans earned the district’s B seed to state following an 18-7 and earned an undisputed first-place spot in the preseason coaches poll.
“Rigby is loaded and returns four players who started for them last year: Britton Berrett, Tanoa Togiai, Keegan Thompson, Brycen Uffens are all very good players,” Schwab said.
Through the first month of the season, the Trojans sit atop the district thanks to an early conference win over Highland. Rigby also welcomes many of its recent state football championship athletes to the hardwood, with notable Trojan football players like Keegan Thompson and Tanoa Togiai earning valuable minutes and giving Rigby incredible size and strength.
When it comes to pure athleticism, the Highland Rams also have some football talent hitting the hardwood, with Easton Durham lining up at point guard. Alongside him, senior guard Wyatt Driscoll and senior forward Jayden Bell will look to improve their team’s 6-18 2018 record and live up to their second-place standing in the preseason coaches poll.
“We want to pound the paint on offense and mix things up and not let you run your offense on the defensive end,” said Highland head coach Tyler Pearson. “We are really big and have some of the best post players in the state.”
In his fourth year at the helm of the Rams, Pearson said goodbye to only one significant starter from a year ago in Andrew VanSickle, a lethal offensive weapon. But when looking at that dominant post position, Pearson said junior center Mason Mickelson will give the Rams a breath of fresh air. Mickelson returns to the roster after a season-ending injury last year.
Rounding out the conference, Thunder Ridge started the season by rebounding from an opening loss to Bonneville, stringing together three straight wins in November. The improvement comes at somewhat of a shock for those expecting the Titans to repeat their meager eight-win season from a year ago.