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Idaho Boys Basketball Top 25 (Jan. 13): West Jefferson Picks Up Win in League Debut
The Panthers sprinted past North Fremont 55-48 on Thursday night in their league opener.
Published: 1/13/2023 11:01:17 AM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


Coming into the season, basketball fans in east Idaho had an inkling that the 2A Nuclear Conference would be wide open.

Consider: There's North Fremont, who lost six games total over the past three seasons.  Then there's Ririe, which went 17-7 a year ago and just missed out on a trip to state.  And what about Firth, the team that defeated Ririe at districts to earn the second bid to state?

Yep, most agreed that North Fremont, Ririe and Firth would all be fighting tooth and nail for Nuclear Conference supremacy in 2022-23.

Nobody was talking about West Jefferson.  And yet, the Panthers have put the rest of the league on notice after defeating North Fremont 55-48 in the Nuclear Conference opener for both teams on Thursday night.

The win put the Panthers at 1-0 in league play and 7-4 overall.  And after weaving their way in and out of the Idaho Boys Basketball Daily Top 25 rankings, West J. is firmly in now after last night's win.

Anyone who tells you they thought West Jefferson was capable of this type of performance is either A) from West Jefferson or B) a liar.

"It was a good win for the boys and the program overall," said Panthers head coach Kelvin Krosch.  "North (Fremont) has been the King of the Nuke (Conference) the past few years, so for us to go into North's place and get a huge road win in a hostile environment, speaks volumes of how far these boys have come in the past year."

Blake Briggs paced the Panthers with 21 points.  Bo Peterson added 11, while Jaren Rojas finished with eight.  North Fremont's Jed Hill finished with 15 points for the Huskies.

The internal belief has always been there for Krosch and his boys.  Now, everyone else around the league is starting to notice them as well.

The resume is impressive.  Among their four losses are a four-point setback to 3A American Falls and a five-point defeat against 3A Teton.  The five-point loss to Teton came eight days after the Timberwolves had defeated West J. by 17.  And after losing to American Falls by four in December, the Panthers won by 13 in the January rematch.

That tells me that Krosch and his team are pretty good at making adjustments. 

For example, right before the new year, the Panthers suffered a 25-point loss to 4A Columbia in the semifinals of the Tournament in New Plymouth. 

The next day, West Jefferson came out and defeated 3A Snake River (a fellow Top 25 team) 72-64 to win third place.

And the Panthers haven't lost since.  West Jefferson carries a five-game winning streak into Saturday's home showdown with Firth.  The contest will serve as the league opener for Firth, who sports an 8-4 record overall.

Here's the rest of the Top 25 Daily Boys Basketball Rankings:


1. Lewiston (10-2)


1. Pocatello (13-0)
2. Hillcrest (11-0)
3. Skyview (9-3)
4. Minico (7-2)


1. Teton (11-1)
2. Marsh Valley (9-3)
3. Snake River (9-4)


1. Melba (11-0)
2. Wendell (8-2)
3. Nampa Christian (11-2)
4. Orofino (6-1)
5. Aberdeen (8-3)
6. Cole Valley Christian (9-3)
7. Ririe (10-1)
8. West Jefferson (7-4)


1. Lapwai (12-0)
2. Lighthouse Christian (10-1)
3. Valley (9-1)
4. Victory Charter (10-2)


1. Rockland (13-1)
2. Richfield (11-0)
3. Watersprings (11-2)
4. Camas County (7-2)
5. Kendrick (8-1)

IN: Camas County, Kendrick
OUT: Preston, Bear Lake


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