White Pine Conference Preview
4. Clearwater Valley
Written by Seiji Wood
State championships aren’t uncommon for the Prairie Pirates. The program has had nine of them in their school history, with the most recent championships coming in 2012 and 2014. This season, their eyes are set on another state title and they start as the team to beat in the White Pine Conference.
“It’s always a tight race in the White Pine,” said Prairie Head Coach Lori Mader.
The Pirates went 19-5 last year and return six players. Junior guard Madisen Sheers and senior guard India Peery earned first and second team all-state honors respectively. The team won’t have as much height, but Mader thinks the team's physicality and fast tempo will make up for that.
“We are full of young and energetic kids,” Mader said. “It will be interesting to see how we mesh. I think all the kids will be key and they must be totally committed.”
As Prairie looks to capture their 10th state title, the team that fell just short of the ultimate goal last year in the state championship game was the Genesee Bulldogs. They still had a great season, going 20-9, and finished as the state runner-up. This year, they look to make another run to the championship game.
Heading into the 2020 season, they return eight players with three that earned honors. Junior guard Bailey Leseman earned first team all-state and seniors Emerson Parkins and Regan Zenner earned honorable mention all-state. However, the Bulldogs lost the best defender in the state last year in Kelsey Jensen.
“We have an experienced group of players returning from a team that played in the state championship game last year,” said Genesee Head Coach Greg Hardie. “They should have good team chemistry and depth. They have had a year to adjust to our system of play.”
The No. 3 team in the coaches poll, Lapwai, may have the best dynamic duo in the conference. All the coaches agree Gloria and Grace Sobotta will be the main players to look out for throughout the season.
There will be a few teams who will try to make their mark in the conference. Despite being close to the bottom in the coaches poll, first-year head coach for Potlatch, Brandon McIntosh, is ready for the challenge of the upcoming season. He will be the fourth coach in four years for the eight seniors returning.
“We will go through growing pains learning a new system and changing and improving our basketball behaviors and trusting what is being taught,” McIntosh said. “But it is going to come down to how bad this team wants it, how hard they want to compete for it, how much they are willing to sacrifice for it, how much work they want to put in for it. Bottom line: work to win. We can’t just expect to win. We must work together to win together.”
Potlatch is looking to surprise teams in the conference. Clearwater Valley also looks to surprise the conference, but most coaches already have Clearwater Valley as the surprise team heading into the season.
Troy had a decent season last year, going 16-7, but saw a lot of change for the 2020 season. The Trojans lost three key players in team captains, Jordyne Fredrickson and Blazie Gilder and main defensive presence, Kiana Hoskins.
“Ability to have a lot of new faces and see how they mold together,” said Troy Head Coach Aaron Dail on what he’s most excited for this season. “How they support each other through good and bad times.”