PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kayla Morse, Buhl
Autumn Montgomery, Buhl
Ella Fisher, Filer
Joanna Hammett, Gooding
Meg Walker, Kimberly
3A Sawtooth Central Conference Preview
Written by Brandon Hill
As certain as death and taxes, Buhl and Filer should provide plenty of regular-season fireworks.
The Indians punched their ticket to the state tournament last year after a three-game bought against the Wildcats to close out conference competition, giving fans of both teams a conference rivalry series to remember. Buhl eventually came out on top in two of the three matchups, winning the final contests 47-39 in overtime.
Heading into 2019-2020, second-year head coach Dan Hill said defense will be the key to getting a leg up in the Sawtooth Central Conference.
“Our style of play is going to start on the defensive end,” Hill said. “We need to take away easy baskets from the other team and make opponents think. On offense, we’re going to share the ball and be patient.”
Hill said he’ll be looking to bolster his defense with the help of senior guards Kayla Morris, Shyanna Higgens and Brynlee Nebeker. Hill said he needed to adapt the Indians’ style of play after losing the offensive firepower of since graduated players like Emily Gorrell and Kira Azevedo.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, will look to redeem two overtime losses that ended the 2018-2019 season. Against Buhl and Teton, the Wildcats fell short 47-39 and 66-63.
Filer finished the year 11-13, but will look to get back on track once conference play kicks off in 2019.
Coming off a 16-6 record, Gooding looks to be on the rise thanks to a strong core of seniors in center Laney Owen, forward Mallory Brown and wing Grace Faulkner. And following the graduation of Grace Parker and seven other Senator seniors, head coach Benjamin Rayfield looked beyond state lines.
Junior guard Joanna Hammett joins the team as a transfer from Alabama, helping an already energetic varsity squad.
“She is an around athlete and basketball player that will have a big impact on our varsity team,” Rayfield said. “This team brings a lot of energy and passion and it’s exciting to coach a brand of basketball that compliments that.”
Rounding out the conference, Kimberly returns seven seniors to the lineup, including forward Meg Walker and guard Jill Russell. Head coach Stanley Watts said even though his team did not finish atop the preseason coaches poll, he expects anyone in the conference to be able to compete for a trip to state.