2A Canyon Boys Basketball Preview
Written by Hailey Stewart
Players to Watch
Jesus Hernandez, Valley
Zane Kelsey, Wendell
Kaden Ramsey, Declo
As Valley High School transitions from the 1AD1 High Desert conference to the 2A Canyon Conference this season due to higher enrollment, it will look to bring a strong showing to a new set of opponents. However, Valley athletics is no stranger to a conference change.
After the 2013-2014 school year, the Vikings moved from the 2A classification to the 1AD1 classification. Head Boys Basketball Coach Brian Hardy sees this change as an opportunity to once again change conferences and take on a new set of conference competition.
“It will be fun to compete against the guys in the Canyon Conference (Declo and Wendell),” Hardy said. “We are the new team in the league and we hope we can keep up with these two proven squads.”
Hardy said he will miss former player Jackson Fife as the Vikings head into this season.
“He was the most unselfish teammate I have ever coached and he would do anything for the team,” Hardy said. “We need to find more players that have that same mindset.”
As for new varsity players looking to make an impact, Hardy said junior guard Jesus Hernandez will be a strong contributor this season.
Building off the 2019-2020 season, Hardy said he and his team hope to continue a strong rebound game and team defense that the players made a priority last year.
“We just need to continue to improve in all areas and play at our highest level for longer stretches of games,” Hardy said. “I think our players are headed in the right direction and eager to play together.”
Hardy said he and his team are looking forward to playing Wendell this season, as he thinks the Trojans will bring some surprises this season.
“They (Wendell) took Declo to the wire last year and will return a lot of key players,” Hardy said. “They are hungry to win.”
Wendell boy’s basketball Head Coach AJ Kelsey said his team will be prepared to take on both old and new conference teams with all players having dealt with varsity competition before.
Shooting guard Zane Kelsey, forward Joe DeMasters and guard Diego Torres are three returning players that Kelsey expects will make a big impact on the court this season.
While there are few new players, Kelsey and the Trojans will look to some new coaching help this season. Ryon Pope, Micah Pope and Allen Kelsey will bring a great deal of experience to the coaching staff, as all assistant coaches have been head basketball coaches before.
Building off last year’s successes, Kelsey said he hopes his seasoned varsity team will bring a strong defense back to the court this season.
As for what the Trojans look to improve upon from last season — a stronger offense is most important this season. Kelsey said the team will need to work on keeping control of the ball and drive down the court with fewer turnovers than in the previous season.
Kelsey and his team are looking forward to playing Declo most in the regular season.
Declo boys basketball Head Coach Jacoby Fox knows exactly what opposing players his team should look out for this year. He’s looking to both competitors in the 2A Canyon Conference as Valley’s Kyle and Garrett Christensen and Wendell’s Torres, Kelsey and Swainston are all hoping to bring the heat against this year’s competitors.
“I think that Valley and Wendell are both going to have really good seasons,” Fox said. “They both return key players who are talented and have high basketball IQ. Both teams will be extremely tough and well coached.”
While Fox knows just how strong the competition might be this year, he’s looking to showcase Declo’s own star talents including Kaden and Keegan Ramsey. Additionally, the Hornets will return key players such as senior post Sam Nebeker, senior guard Tyler Olsen and senior post Payton Silcock.
The Declo Boys Basketball team has also added former Declo graduate and a basketball player at the College of Idaho Kyle Redman to the assistant coaching staff.
“He brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and experience,” Fox said.
Last year, Fox saw the Hornets “take charge” on the court with a strong defensive strategy. However, he hopes this season will bring out the players’ physicality.
“We’re going to need to be able to do a better job of matching physicality and playing under pressure,” Fox said.
Although Declo had the most conference wins in 2019-2020’s small 2A Canyon Conference and 14 overall winning games for the season, the team looks to bring an even stronger showing to the court this year.