2A Nuclear Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
3. North Fremont
4. West Jefferson
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hailey Gee, Firth
Hailey Barker, Firth
Sara Boone, Ririe
Ellie Miller, North Fremont
Sage Moss, West Jefferson
Written by: Katie Knight
Firth took a slight advantage over Ririe to earn the top spot in the preseason coaches poll for the Nuclear Conference. Senior forward Hailey Gee was a first-team all-conference pick in 2019 and is at the front of the Cougars’ push to get to the state tournament. Joining Gee are juniors Hailey Barker, Kiley Mecham and Cassi Robbins.
Head coach Sharla Cook has been coaching at Firth for 18 seasons and is looking forward to what this 2020 season will bring.
“I am excited to work with this hard-working group of players. They are committed to giving 100%,” said Cook.
Firth will add depth to their roster with incoming JV players and plan to play solid, intense defense. Cook recognizes the sharpshooting players from their competition and wants to push the tempo to help her team have a successful year.
Some of that sharpshooting will be delivered by junior guard Sara Boone of Ririe. With a new coach at the helm and no returning varsity seniors, the Bulldogs were still picked to finish second in the preseason poll.
First-year head coach Jake Landon is taking over where Damien Smith left off with Ririe being a perennial power in basketball and a strong tradition of being one of the top teams in the state.
“I am excited to be a part of an awesome program,” said Landon. “I believe our team has great chemistry and [I] can’t wait to see it show up on the basketball court.”
Contributing to the team chemistry will be juniors Paige Martinez, Halley Guthrie and Dallas Sutton, all with varsity experience. In addition, multiple JV players are ready to step up to the challenge.
Ririe is known for their shooting prowess and stifling defense. Landon recognizes his teams’ athleticism and believes his team is ready to compete for the 2019-2020 season.
Battling it out in the middle of the conference will be North Fremont and West Jefferson.
“North Fremont is very well-coached and will always compete,” Landon said.
Ellie Miller will be on coach’s scouting reports as she leads her team in their 2019-2020 campaign.
“They are always so scrappy and play hard the whole game,” said West Jefferson Head Coach Jalena Dixon.
Dixon also has a scrappy and hard-working squad at West Jefferson this season. She is returning for her fourth season and bringing back Saige Moss, a second-team All-Conference pick, as well as Shaylee Anhder.
There will be a challenge in replacing the Nuclear Conference player of the year, all-area player of the year and all-state first-team player, Jordi Holdaway. Holdaway was the heart and soul of last year’s team, so coach Dixon is looking for players to fill big shoes.
“I am excited to see the girls figure out their team roles and for them to discover they can be leaders on the court,” said Dixon. “They are very unselfish and scrappy.”
Bringing critical experience will be junior point guard Lacey Dalling who was called up in 2019 for district and state tournament minutes. West Jefferson knows what it takes to make it to the state tournament and coach Dixon said her team is ready to work.
“They are very coachable and team-oriented,” Dixon said.
Salmon High School had a rough 2018-2019 season, but with nine returning players the Savages are embracing the challenge of building a program.
“We are still very young, with no seniors on our team,” said Head Coach Pat Behrens.
Last year the Savages went 0-20 and enduring that season has helped motivate the Salmon team to work hard and improve.
“We play well together offensively and defensively,” Behrens said. “We are looking forward to all of our players improving their level of play.”