Pocatello High School
Conference: 4A District 5-6 Conference
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Pocatello High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Joe Green
Record Last Year: 15-9
State Titles: '27, '29, '36, '42, '44, '57, '62, '69, '99, '00
Key Players lost from last year:
Kobi Gardea – All-Conference First Team
Jaden Brown – All-Conference Second Team
Caleb Holt – All-Conference Honorable Mention
Zach Jensen – All-Conference Honorable Mention
Written by: Matt Harris
4A District 5-6 Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
2. Idaho Falls
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brayden Parker, Preston
Derek Wadsworth, Preston
Britten Atkinson, Preston
Chance Hart, Preston
Jaden Landes, Skyline
Kalvin Bowen, Idaho Falls
Coleton Adamson, Century
Deshun Harwell, Century
Dexter Hale, Blackfoot
Trevor Miller, Blackfoot
Winning a state championship is an incredible achievement – one that is not easily accomplished.
Winning back-to-back state titles is even more difficult.
But winning three-in-a-row? The target on the back of the Preston Indians might as well be as big as the Idaho Center itself.
“It starts and ends with Preston,” said Skyline head coach Clint Cornish. “We will all be gunning for them.”
Century head coach Ryan Frost added, “All eyes are on them. The road to winning the conference goes through Preston.”
Preston will go after the three-peat this season with almost their entire starting lineup returning to the fold. 4A All-State Player of the Year Brayden Parker is back for his senior campaign, along with All-State First Team selection Derek Wadsworth at point guard. Shooting guard Britten Atkinson returns along with 6’6” forward Chance Hart.
If you’re wondering how their depth is this season – they’ve got plenty of it. Seniors Dixon Ware and Kyler Burbank will provide quickness and athleticism, while junior Riley Parker and sophomore Ty Hyde will bring the beef inside for Preston.
“We are excited with the experience we return this season. We bring back four starters who played a lot of minutes and have been through some battles and have had some success,” said head coach Tyler Jones, now in his 8th season leading the program. “Anytime you bring back players with some experience, you hope they can pass that on to the younger players and can be a real positive for the team.”
Jones added that they will look to use their size to their advantage while also trying to provide a good balance between the guards and post players.
“We want to play fast and up-tempo basketball and get out in transition and run the court as much as we can,” he said. “We want to use our size and length to our advantage and execute and get the ball inside as much as possible. Every year we focus on defense and rebounding and think if we can defend well and out-rebound our opponents, we will have a chance to win a lot of basketball games.”
As for that Idaho Center-sized target on their backs?
“It’s a new season. We have new people that have to step up and fill in for those we lost. As the season goes along, we need people to step up and contribute and learn their roles.”
That theme is consistent with what the Idaho Falls Tigers boys basketball program this season. After losing major contributors such as Sawyer Storms, Cooper Peterson, Cole Ybarguen, and Austin Staker to graduation, the orange and black will look to sort out how they plan on replacing that production.
Fortunately for Tigers fans, the team brings in a number of young players who can and will make a contribution. The question for fourth year head coach Howard Hart is how does he want to use that talent.
“We are young, but have athletic and tall kids,” he said. “We are still trying to figure it out with a new group and with size we have not had before.”
He’s not wrong about size. Idaho Falls boasts three players 6’6” or taller, including junior Paul Wilson who stands at 6’10”. Their size is a stark contrast from last season, where Idaho Falls had one player at 6’6” or taller and tended to initiate the offense more on the perimeter.
The returning firepower comes on the guard line however as Kalvin Bowen and Andrew Gregerson will lead the way for the Tigers. Forward Noah Hillam will see an increased role this season, along with Cameron Conrad and Braxton Ball.
Across town, the Tigers’ District 91 rival Skyline Grizzlies will look to have a bounce back campaign, after finishing fifth in the conference a year ago. In early indications mean anything, we know that the Grizz can shoot – and do so very well.
Skyline is led by fifth year head coach Clint Cornish, who helped take Skyline to two state tournaments at the 5A level a few years ago. Cornish feels that this year’s group is versatile.
“I feel like we can play any style this year,” he said. “Our seniors have been in our system now for four solid years and they love to play.”
Returning to the court for Skyline are Danny Webb, Brennan Archibald, Jaden Landes, Jo Bates, and Cruz Taylor. Kadin Pabst is also expected to have an impact on the team. Cornish said that this group can hit the ground running.
“I really like how our group has jelled in the summer as well as the start of practice. They really care about each other and that’s important.”
According to Cornish, there are two keys that will make the difference in how far Skyline goes this year.
“Getting better in our team defensive concepts and being consistent every night,” he said, adding that getting better every day in practice is one of their main goals in the program. The other?
“Beat I.F.” he said. “We split with them last year and it’s always a good year when we beat those guys.”
Another team the Grizzlies split with in the regular season last year was the Blackfoot Broncos. Blackfoot posted their best record since at least 2009 last season and are hoping to build on what they accomplished last year.
But the Broncos will have to do that without the services of talented big man Jarod Greene, who used his size to dominate the defensive end and cause also sorts of matchup problems last year.
With Greene’s graduation, the Broncos will look to seniors Rayce Shelley and Trevor Miller, along with junior Dexter Hale to take on an increased load of responsibility. Shooting guard Dylan Fuller is also anticipated to have an impact on head coach Cody Shelley’s squad.
While Blackfoot no longer has a dominating inside force, they will try to play to their strengths – namely outside shooting.
“We are a hardworking team who runs and we will all shoot from the perimeter,” said Shelley, who also added that his team needs to play with chemistry, be good defensively, and run when they can in order to find success this year.
“Coach Shelley always finds a way to get his teams playing hard in February,” said Century’s Ryan Frost, who noted that Blackfoot could be the surprise of the conference this year.
As for Frost’s Century squad, which is coming off of a dismal season, the Diamondbacks are in position for rapid improvement with a new coaching staff and new schemes.
It also helps that plenty of talent returns to the floor, including senior Coleton Adamson and junior Deshun Harwell. They will be flanked by seniors McKay Ordyna, Thomas Tallon, and Connor Haines, along with junior Max Rogers.
The senior class has the skills to be successful, yet they have not found that success so far in their careers. Frost hopes to turn that around this year.
“I’m excited for Coleton Adamson and the rest of the senior class,” he said. “They have put in a lot of work in the offseason on the court and in the weight room.”
The team has also put in plenty of work in getting to know the offensive and defensive schemes of the new coaching staff.
“We play hard-nosed defense and want to be very unselfish on offense,” Frost said. “I think we have enough depth that we can have a different leading scorer from game to game. Our success will depend on how quickly we can adjust to the different philosophy of the new coaching staff and how well we play defense and rebound.”
Early results have been good for the Diamondbacks thus far – and opposing coaches are noticing it.
“I think Century will surprise people,” said Skyline’s Clint Cornish. “They have a new coach and that always brings new excitement to the team. They also have solid players that have gotten better over the summer.”
“Century could surprise with the new staff and culture,” remarked both Idaho Falls’ Howard Hart and Blackfoot’s Cody Shelley.
Moving downtown through the Gate City, the Pocatello Indians will look to find consistency as they move into the new season.
With Pocatello losing a number of seniors, including All-Conference selections Kobi Gardea, Jaden Brown, Caleb Holt, and Zach Jensen, the Indians are tasked with replacing most of their main contributors.
Look for head coach Joe Green to lean on the abilities of Kobee Gunter, Tyler Olsen, Isaac Brown, and Kaden Hales for leadership this season. These players will receive a large share of the productivity load.
When it comes to looking at the big picture for the conference, Preston’s Tyler Jones sums it up.
“Our conference should be really good this year and I think there will be a lot of parity. The conference is wide open,” he said. “It should be a wild ride and a lot of fun. You have to win at home and get a couple on the road to put yourself in a good spot. Good basketball teams have to be able to win on the road.”