Highland High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Gino Mariani
Years as Head Coach: 2
Previous Experience: JV boys basketball head coach at Pocatello High School (1992-1995)
Head girls basketball coach at Pocatello High School (1996-2000)
Assistant girls basketball coach at Highland High School (2001-2003)
Record Last Year: 18-10
State Titles: 2
Makenzie Van Sickle
Meghan Calley, G, Jr.
Mackenna Thayne, F, Jr.
Lydia Maughan, F, Jr.
Raquel Pokibri, G, Sr.
Hallie Austin, G, Sr.
Kenadee Tacy, F, So.
Key Players lost from last year:
MaKenna Baker, PG, Captain
Mallori Vawdry G
Kim Hawes, G
Bailey Farrer, F
Incoming impact players:
Kayzee Vaughan, G, So., JV team
Saydree Bell, G, So., JV team
Kaylee Nielsen, G, Jr., JV team
Shondin Farmer, F, Sr., JV team
Clarissa Schrock, G, So., JV team
Photo By: Hal Coburn - #13 Meghan Calley
1. Thunder Ridge
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Rudy Murdoch, Rigby
Tylie Jones, Rigby
Raquel Pokibri, Highland
Lauren Davenport, Thunder Ridge
Sierra John, Thunder Ridge
Avery Turnage, Thunder Ridge
Written by Brandon Hill
The Highland Rams’ road to the postseason won’t be easy. Highland graduated a host of talent last spring, including captain point guard Makenna Baker. Highland Head Coach Gino Mariani said in the place of his top four graduated players, he’s called upon five former JV squad members to try and provide some valuable minutes on the floor.
“We are young and inexperienced, but we will play hard on the defensive end,” he said. “This team is coachable and fast. I’m excited to see their improvement throughout the year.”
Behind just two seniors on varsity, guards Hallie Austin and Raquel Pokibri, Mariani said the Rams will rely on their defense to keep them in games. Through the Rams’ opening November games, Mariani’s squad averaged 38 points per game and held 4A opponents Pocatello and Minico to under 30 points.
But when it comes to competing with conference opponents, Mariani said Thunder Ridge will be the team to beat in 2019.
“Thunder Ridge will surprise people this year,” he said. “They’re stacked with athletes.”
He’s not wrong. The Titans return three players with conference honors from last year: junior shooting guard Lauren Davenport, junior point guard Sierra John and senior center Avery Turnage.
The stacked roster brings to mind a program steeped in culture and history, yet the Titans girls are only in their second year of existence. And with just one senior being lost to graduation, Thunder Ridge returns nearly its entire squad from last year.
“To think we basically get our entire group back is fantastic,” said Thunder Ridge Head Coach Jeremy Spencer. “Being a first-year program, it forced the girls to step up. I felt like the girls competed and took on the challenge.”
Despite an 8-16 finish in 2018, the Titans looked primed to take the conference title this year, and fellow 5-6 coaches are taking notice as Thunder Ridge finished with two first-place votes in the preseason coaches poll. Spencer said in 2018, he hopes every aspect of his team improves, especially increased floor awareness on defense.
Hot off a 18-9 record a season ago, the Rigby Trojans are hoping to parlay a recent football state championship into some momentum for their girls basketball team.
Rigby returns all-conference athletes Ruby Murdoch and Tylie Jones, each making a big impact early in the year.
“We have a young but energetic team who like playing the game of basketball,” said Rigby Head Coach Troy Shippen. “They have spent a lot of time practicing fundamentals and hope to be in the state tournament again.”
Trailing the rest of the conference after a tough end to last year’s season, the Madison Bobcats are hoping to redeem an eight-game losing skid. Madison got back into the win column just one game into 2019, stringing together back-to-back wins against Hillcrest and Idaho Falls, marking the Bobcats’ first victories since January.