5A Inland Empire League
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Lake City
2. Coeur d’Alene
3. Post Falls
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brooklyn Rewers, Lake City
Skyler Burke, Coeur d’Alene
Dylan Lovett, Post Falls
Ali Carpenter, Post Falls
Kaitlyn Richardson, Lewiston
Lake City was the lone representative at state from the 5A Inland Empire League a year ago and is the preseason choice of the coaches in the league to return once again this season.
Back for the Timberwolves is 5A IEL Player of the Year Brooklyn Rewers on the inside and guards Aubrey Avery and Kendall Pickford on the outside. Junior forward Brenna Hawkins is expected to complement Rewers as an interior option.
“We have the ability to score a little more, but have a long way to go to match our defense from a year ago,” said Lake City Head Coach James Anderson. “We shoot the ball very well. This group will have to learn how to defend to be successful.”
Anderson said he’s most excited to see how well the unit shares the ball on the offensive side of the floor.
Replacing a quality senior group from last year that included Bridget Rieken, Chloe Teets, Dejah Wilson, Klaire Mitchell and Sara Muehlhausen will be a challenge, but the Timberwolves appear to still have the pieces in place to make a run at the league title.
Coaches in the IEL expect Coeur d’Alene to be a primary challenger for postseason action as well.
“Coeur d’Alene has a number of returning players with good team speed and shooters,” said Post Falls Head Coach Marc Allert.
He’s not the only one that has the Vikings on the radar.
“They have lots of experience and have had good additions the last two years,” Anderson said.
Sophomore Skyler Burke and five talented junior class pieces, including Jaden Chavez, Tori Younker, Jaelyn Brainard-Adams, Emma Whiteman and Nakisha Matheson, return to make the squad dangerous.
“The team will get up and down the floor quickly,” said Coeur d’Alene Head Coach Nicole Symons. “(We) can dribble and get the ball up the floor. We will look to score off the fast break — even off made baskets. We are not big, but we are fast and can play defense the full length of the floor. I am looking for this team to wear teams down by the third quarter.”
Freshman forward Madison Symons is expected to add quality rebounding and defense on the interior for CDA, with the ability to play outside as well.
With the talent in place, the Vikings hope to make a run at a state tournament appearance.
“I am excited for my first year as head coach of the CHS Viking program,” Symons said. “The program is rich in history and I look forward to helping the program regain its status. The players have worked extremely hard this offseason to improve their individual skills. I am excited to see their hard work pay off.”
Just down the road in Post Falls, Allert has a host of players returning, which should help immensely after playing young a year ago.
“We return our top eight players and also added two others who can score in Lexi Heath and Mia Darwood,” said Allert. “We are a very balanced team with good chemistry, good senior leadership and a willingness to play for each other.”
The Trojans will not have as much height as most of their opponents, meaning the team will rely on a deep guard line to crash the boards and battle down low.
First Team All-IEL guard Dylan Lovett and fellow backcourt teammates Ali Carpenter, Kennedy LaFountaine and Katie Fleming are some of the players to watch.
“Having a year of experience for everyone has made us aware of what it takes to be successful,” Allert said. “This year’s team will have more scoring options. Since we have no true post player and no one over 5-foot-10, we will play fast and aggressive on both ends of the floor. Turning defense into offense will be our focus. Taking care of the ball and playing aggressively will be key.”
Lewiston was selected to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll and is led by the talented Kaitlyn Richardson. The Bengals won nine games last year, but have to replace Kendyll Kinzer, now at Fresno State.