3A Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference Preview
Written by Sven Alskog
Players to Watch
Jaxon Bair (Kimberly)
Gatlin Bair (Kimberly)
Tegun Tews (Filer)
Jackson Cummins (Kimberly)
Colston Loveland (Gooding)
Gavin Martin (Gooding)
Drexler Jaynes (Buhl)
Following a 23-2 season which saw Kimberly make a trip to the state championship game for the second time in three years, the Bulldogs enter the new season as the favorites once again in the 3A Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference.
A trio of key pieces graduated from the roster of a year ago for Kimberly, including two-time 3A Player of the Year Dawson Cummins, sharpshooter Brant Etherington and athletic rebounder Peyton Bair.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, junior All-Conference guard Jaxon Bair returns and is joined by Jackson Cummins and Brett Bronson as talents that should help mitigate the losses. Senior center Trevor Hammond is another returner to watch.
Ethan Okelberry, Gatlin Bair, Dylan Hollist and Zac Doggett are all newcomers that are expected to make an impact.
“We scored the ball at a high rate last year,” said Kimberly head coach Daren Garey. “We will have to do it a little bit differently this time around, but that is something we will strive to do.”
After dropping the state championship game 72-54 to Sugar-Salem to end last season, the Bulldogs will have a couple of opportunities at the Diggers in the regular season this year, as the two programs have scheduled a home-and-away series.
Beyond Kimberly in the 3A SCIC, Filer is a team that showed glimpses last season, going 11-16 overall and 4-2 in conference action.
The Wildcats lost Austin Jarolimek, Teagan Anderson, Miguel Perez and Binson Rountree to graduation, leaving some fresh faces in a spot where they should see plenty of opportunities.
Of the returners, guards Kelson Gillett and Tegun Tews will team with post Joseph Bertao to lead the way.
“We are hoping to continue to progress and grow the program,” said Filer head coach Rob Anderson. “We struggled with consistent scoring last year and are looking to improve in that area.”
Gooding finished third in the conference last season at 7-15 overall and 2-4 in league play. The Senators have plenty of reason for optimism after displaying growth a year ago, although the team will look to improve consistency from game-to-game and quarter-to-quarter according to the coaching staff.
“We made huge strides last year being competitive in most games,” said Gooding head coach Chris Comstock. “The players feel like they can win every time they step on the floor this year.”
Helping the cause for Gooding is that the program graduated just one senior in Kenny Anderson, while talented pieces Colston Loveland and Gavin Martin return after earning All-Conference accolades last season.
Loveland is an athletic post player, while Martin can knock down shots from the off-guard position outside. Point guard Owen Rogers and forward AJ Darcy are a couple of other notable returners for the Senators.
Cooper Pavkov earned playing time in the district tournament last year and the strong shooter is expected to see more time on the floor this time around.
“Gooding has size and athleticism to cause any team problems,” said Garey.
Buhl rounded out the conference standings last year, going 2-20 overall and 0-6 in the conference.
Entering his 11th season as the head coach, Dan Winn hopes to get the trajectory of the program headed back in a winning direction, as the program has not made a trip to state since winning the third-place game over South Fremont in 2016.
Senior forward Drexler Jaynes is a player to watch for the Indians, along with senior guard Joe Armitage.