4A Great Basin Conference Preview
Written by Sven Alskog
Players to Watch
Michael Lloyd (Jerome)
Brandon Bethel (Mountain Home)
Brevin Trenkle (Minico)
Mason Swafford (Twin Falls)
Scott Cook (Jerome)
Brody Osen (Canyon Ridge)
Zach Ball (Twin Falls)
Jayden Kelso (Canyon Ridge)
Jarrett Orthman (Burley)
Iradukunda Emery (Twin Falls)
Defending state champion Preston has departed the 4A Great Basin Conference to return to a three-team league with Century and Pocatello this season, leaving the remaining seven GBC teams with what appears to be a wide-open battle for state spots this year.
Of those seven teams, Minico is the lone returning state qualifier. The Spartans went 19-8 last season, highlighted by winning the consolation bracket.
Coming off a successful first year as head coach, Brady Trenkle will have to find a way to replace some key pieces, including Kasen Carpenter.
Fortunately for Minico, the team returns the talented Brevin Trenkle, who is one of the top players in the conference.
Kent Merrill is another piece that returns who saw action in the state tournament for the Spartans.
The coaching staff is also excited newcomers like senior point guard Coltin Manning and junior wing Klayton Wilson.
“We graduated 10 seniors,” Coach Trenkle said. “All will be missed because of their leadership and the foundation they set for the program, which was the key reason for our success last year.”
Burley fell victim to a pair of upsets in the district tournament to Century and Wood River and missed state after what had been a strong year for the Bobcats, who finished with a 15-8 record.
All-State performer Jace Whiting has graduated and is now at Boise State, leaving new head coach Mac Stannard with a hungry team.
That group will have to find a way to replace the 23 points per game of offensive production that Whiting brought to the squad in addition to the 6-foot-7 presence that is no longer around in the form of second-team All-Conference selection Creighton Hanson.
Senior guards Jarrett Orthman and McCray Mort are key returners for the Bobcats.
The new coach also has his eyes on an incoming impact player for Burley.
“Stockton Page is a junior point guard who I expect to have a big season,” Stannard said.
After a bit of a down year by program standards, Twin Falls is another team that should compete for a spot at state.
Multiple players on the Bruins were listed as players to watch in the conference by other coaches in the league, including Mason Swafford, Zach Ball and Iradukunda Emery.
Nick Swensen and Tyler Robbins are some other players to watch for on the Bruins.
James Glenn will be taking over on the sideline for Twin Falls this season after the program had been under the direction of Matt Harr for 18 years. Glenn brings over 20 years of experience to the program from his time in North Carolina.
“I’m looking forward to playing Twin Falls,” said Mountain Home head coach Brion Bethel. “They’re always a fun matchup with some exciting finishes.”
The new coaching staff hopes to keep the Bruins towards the top of the league on a consistent basis.
“We’re all new coaches in our positions this year,” Glenn said. “We hope to improve on all aspects of the game with us each having a new perspective. I’m a defensive coach and I hope to improve on our overall defensive strategy this upcoming season.”
The Mountain Home Tigers return junior All-Conference guard Brandon Bethel and senior forward Hyrum Wright from a team that went 6-18 last season, with CJ Mann a player that the coaching staff expects to have a breakout year.
“We played great team defense last year and we’re hoping to continue that,” Coach Bethel said. “We did not shoot the ball well last year though. Our guys have been in the gym all offseason getting shots up. We should score a lot more points this year.”
Three-year starting guard Kane Binkley graduated and will be missed by the Tigers in the backcourt.
Further down the road in Jerome, expectations are rising for a program that many in the conference think can compete this season after going 4-17 last season.
“I think Jerome is poised to see a massive improvement from their last few years,” said Canyon Ridge head coach Darren Van Hofwegen. “Michael Lloyd had an impressive summer and looks really good.”
Lloyd averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore and is expected to continue to see a rise in his productivity from the guard line.
Sophomore guard Scott Cook also posted a double-digit scoring average, posting 11.1 points per game in his first year at the varsity level.
Interior presence Gavin Capps returns for his junior season and guard Alfredo Ortiz is back for his senior year to help lead the way for the Tigers.
“We were very young last year starting a freshman and two sophomores,” said Jerome head coach Joe Messick. “Their experience from last season should pay dividends this year.”
Sophomore guard Schuyler Mower and senior guard Dillon Reading will add additional depth for Jerome.
Following a 10-12 season, Canyon Ridge will have a largely new look this season after graduating the bulk of the roster.
“We lost seven seniors who continued the progress of laying the foundation for Canyon Ridge basketball,” Van Hofwegen said. “They continued the progress by defeating Twin Falls for the first time in program history.”
With so many pieces no longer in the program, those who do return will be relied on in larger roles as well as in leadership capacities for the younger talent coming up.
“This group is completely new with only four returning players,” Van Hofwegen added. “But this group has proven success in their eighth grade, freshman and JV years. We are looking forward to them stepping up to the varsity challenge.”
Guards Brody Osen and Ryker Holtzen and forwards Jayden Kelso and Steven Garrett-Lagrone are the only players back from last year, with junior post Sam Lupumba and junior guard Aaron Seitz expected to be impact newcomers after seeing success over the summer.
The new-look Riverhawks hope to improve in a couple of key areas this year.
“I think our team struggled to score and rebound consistently,” Van Hofwegen said. “The makeup of this year’s team is much bigger in length, so we hope to correct that.”
Wood River is coming off one of the best seasons for the program in recent history, going 11-13 and making a run at districts.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, leading scorer Johnny Radford is now at The College of Idaho where he is expected to make a key impact for the Coyotes this season as a freshman.
Radford had a standout career in Hailey, culminating with him averaging 27.1 points per game. He finished his high school journey with 1,393 points, which are the most in a career in Wood River history.
Replacing a talent like Radford, who posted 51 points in a district tournament win over Burley last year, is no easy task.
New head coach Eli Stein faces that challenge, as well as the task of replacing the bulk of the rest of the roster as well.
It looks to be a rebuilding year for the Wolverines, who are expected to run a Princeton style offense on one end with an aggressive pressing defensive approach on the other.
The roster is still taking shape and will depend largely on the results of tryouts.
Stein was at the Virginia Military Institute last year, where he served as the assistant director of operations for men’s basketball.