PLAYERS TO WATCH
Dawson Cummins, Kimberly
Brant Etherington, Kimberly
Peyton Bair, Kimberly
Jade Juker, Buhl
Drexler Jaynes, Buhl
Joe Armitage, Buhl
Miguel Perez, Filer
Austin Jarolimek, Filer
Gavin Martin, Gooding
Coleston Loveland, Gooding
3A Sawtooth Central Conference Preview
Written by Brandon Hill
With just one representative in last year’s state tournament, the Kimberly Bulldogs took home third-place after defeating Marsh Valley 52-45 to cap off a 21-4 record.
The Bulldogs are back for 2019-2020 with head coach Daren Garey at the helm for the sixth year in a row. Garey leads a team packed with talent, as 3A State Player of the Year Dawsin Cummins makes a return, followed by two all-conference players in Peyton Bair and Brant Etherington.
“Much of our core is back, but we lost a lot of key role players,” Garey said. “We should be a little more athleticism and as a result, will have the ability to play a little faster.”
After losing a strong core of last year’s seniors in Braxton Hammond and Tristan O’Donnell, Garey said he’ll look to Cummins to help lead some new faces on the varsity squad, including sophomore guard Jaxon Bair and junior center Trevor Hammond.
“We have five players with state tournament experience, three of which were key contributors to our third-place finish,” he said. “We also have some exciting new players coming up from the JV.”
Filer head coach Rob Anderson, meanwhile, hopes to elevate Filer past its 12-12 season from a year ago and earn his Wildcats a seed at state. With four seniors to call upon, Anderson said in every one of his three years at Filer, he sees nothing but improvement.
“Each year we feel we have progressed a little more. We are excited to see where we are this year,” Anderson said. “We want to be aggressive on the defensive end and control the offensive.”
Behind senior guards Miguel Anderson and Austin Jarolimek, the Wildcats possess an undersized team compared to last year, but should make up for their lack of height with an increase in speed across the floor.
Nipping at the Wildcats’ heels, Buhl hopes to replace the talents of graduated all-star Adam Lauda, a two-time all-conference player and the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
With just two players left over from last year’s 8-12 season, the Indians hope senior forward Jade Juker and junior forward Drexler Jaynes can lead an inexperienced team to the top of the Sawtooth Central.
“We’ve graduated all of our team from last year, except for two players — Juker and Jaynes — and our offense will need to start from scratch,” said head coach and Buhl alumnus Dan Winn. “We want to establish multiple offensive weapons, which gives us diversity in our offense. We preach being aggressive in pace, ball movement and shot selection. We emphasize sharing the ball, because if we get everyone involved, we become more powerful with multiple weapons.”
Winn preaches motion day in and day out on both ends of the court, adding that a fluid offense will help confuse defenders, giving players not used to shooting at the varsity level more open looks.
“We have a very talented junior class, anchored by our two seniors,” Winn said. “The chemistry and effort with this team is very high, and we want to be fun to watch through our effort teamwork.”
Bringing up the rear, the Gooding Senators have nowhere to go but up after a one-win season in 2018-2019. Head coach Chris Comstock said he expects to coach a very selfless team this season, as most of his players are not afraid to spread the ball around, giving everyone a chance to score.
“These kids get along and want to play together,” Comstock said. “They enjoy sharing the ball and giving out assists. We will have more depth and play better together. We may not be as athletic, but we should be a better basketball team.”
The Senators return senior post Colston Loveland to lead a young team after the graduation of Cayden Loveland. Comstock said behind these inexperienced, but nevertheless energetic, players, he’ll look to pressure opposing offenses and keep scoring low.
“I think we have the depth we can play this way on a consistent basis,” he said. “We need to develop a scorer’s mindset at all positions and increase our point total.”