3A Mountain Rivers Conference Preview
Written by Sven Alskog
Players to Watch
Crew Clark (Sugar-Salem)
Luke Thompson (Teton)
Hyrum Heuseveldt (Teton)
Tag Bair (South Fremont)
Dallin Orme (South Fremont)
Kaimen Peebles (South Fremont)
After winning back-to-back state championships and three titles in the last four years, a historic senior class has graduated from Sugar-Salem, with the Diggers hoping to reload and remain as the class of the 3A classification.
Talented pieces like Hadley Miller, Tanner Harris and Kyler Handy were among those that have departed from the Sugar-Salem program, however the return of All-State guard Crew Clark should help to provide some continuity.
Entering his eighth season as the head coach of the Diggers, Shawn Freeman says that newcomers Toby Pinnock, Kyzon Garner and Kendle Harris are some players to watch for his team.
With all the new faces in place, Sugar-Salem hopes to continue doing a couple of key things that the program has done well in recent years, while also improving in a pair of other areas.
“We played really good defense and shot the ball well last year,” Freeman said. “Rebounding and turnovers are always areas where I’d like to see improvement.”
Despite the major roster overhaul, opposing coaches in the Mountain Rivers Conference expect the Diggers to remain a strong foe.
“Sugar-Salem should surprise people because they will be tough by the end of the season,” said Teton head coach Robert Heuseveldt. “They lost all but one of their players last year but have a lot of young potential that will grow inside of their program and be really tough by the end of the year.”
Teton finished second in the conference a year ago with a 14-8 record, falling to Marsh Valley 54-51 in the state play-in game.
All-Conference selections Luke Thompson and Hyrum Heuseveldt are back for their senior seasons for the Timberwolves, who also return honorable mention picks in senior center Xander Vontz and sophomore scoring guard Jarom Heuseveldt. Reid Nelson is another key returner.
“We played good defense last year,” Heuseveldt said. “We are hoping to emphasize it again this year with the added quickness that we should have as a team.”
Staying healthy will be a key factor.
“We really struggled with injuries at the end of the season,” Heuseveldt added. “We were missing some key players for our last two games. If they were healthy, I think the outcome would have been a little different.”
Those final two games for Teton included the loss to Marsh Valley in the play-in game and also a 65-51 loss to Sugar-Salem in the district championship.
Alan Castro will move up to varsity full-time this season and the hope is that his high-effort style of play can help the Timberwolves lessen the blow from the losses of a couple of key pieces who graduated following last year.
“We lost Carson Reiley and Dusty Hess,” Heuseveldt said. “Carson was the team leader with four years of varsity experience and was a great perimeter shooter. Dusty was super competitive and attacked the basket really well.”
Over in St. Anthony, South Fremont welcomes new head coach Bruce Kerbs into the fold after eight seasons under the direction of Ryon Pope, who led the Cougars to a state title in 2015.
Kerbs inherits a roster featuring six returning seniors and a junior who saw action at the varsity level a year ago in Kaimen Peebles.
A pair of those seniors, Tag Bair and Dallin Orme, return to anchor the outside after earning All-Conference accolades for their efforts last season.
Figuring out the final few roster spots should be a fun competition.
“I have eight juniors that will be battling to see which ones make varsity,” Kerbs said. “My juniors are a special group of young men.”
With many of the pieces on the basketball roster having had success in other sports as well, the winning mindset is already strong within the program.
“I thought we played hard every game and always fought to the end last year,” Kerbs said. “I hope that continues and these boys can come together and make a good run towards the state title.”
Increasing the scoring output is a major area of emphasis for improvement for the Cougars.
“We got a lot of shots off a year ago, but I feel we can do better at putting the ball in the hole,” Kerbs added. “We’ve got to score points.”
If South Fremont can improve in that area, the team should be right in the mix in an always tough Mountain Rivers Conference.