1ADII Sawtooth Conference Preview
Written by Brandon Baney
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Breken Clarke, Camas County
Dallin Parke, Carey
Hunter Smith, Carey
Brady Power, Dietrich
Jett Shaw, Dietrich
Jesse Titone, Hagerman
Jonathan Camarillo, Hansen
Clay Kent, Richfield
Carsn Perkes, Richfield
Sid Tomlinson, Sun Valley Community School
Like a current on the ocean, the Sawtooth Conference in 2019 was wild, unpredictable, and subject to change on a whim. It came to a head at last year’s District Tournament, when top-seeded Lighthouse Christian and second-seeded Camas County both failed to qualify for state. Lighthouse Christian has moved up to the 1A D1 ranks, and so has Murtaugh. Their departure has left an eight-team conference that should be wide open again in 2020.
Despite finishing in 4th place in the league standings last season, the Dietrich Blue Devils actually had the strongest finish among Sawtooth teams, as they took home the 3rd place trophy from state. Veteran coach Wayne Dill will reload this year around senior guard Brady Power and junior swingman Jett Shaw. Both were All-Conference performers a year ago, and Power will be looking for a rare 4th consecutive All-State nod this year as well.
They are joined in the lineup by senior forwards Rhys Dill and Manny Cabrera, and promising sophomores Cody Power and Layne Dilworth will make their varsity debuts this year. “Last year, we got better as the season progressed,” coach Dill says. “Our defense was very good, and our running game improved as we went along. I think we will run the floor better this year. Our players call it ‘Controlled Chaos.’ It’s a fitting name.”
When the dust had settled from last year’s District Tournament, the Carey Panthers had emerged as the tourney champs. They couldn’t keep that momentum going at state, though, as the Panthers bowed out after going 1-2. Panthers coach Dick Simpson returns a pair of dynamic guards in seniors Hunter Smith and Dallin Parke. If the Panthers can get strong inside play to go along with the perimeter playmakers, Carey should be right in the thick of things again in 2020.
Camas County saw a promising season come crashing down last year. The Mushers carried the #2 seed into districts, but were upset in the first round by seventh-seeded Hansen 64-60. Camas County never did recover after that loss, finishing 1-2 at districts. Despite the stumble in the postseason, Mushers coach Jamon Frostenson took a very young team to a 16-6 record a year ago, and will bring back an improved, motivated team in 2020, headlined by junior guard Breken Clarke.
There’s no doubt that the Hansen Huskies were playing their best ball of the season last year right when the playoffs began. After the upset over Camas County, Hansen lost to Carey in the semis 56-54, and Murtaugh in a loser-out game 44-42. “We return four starters from last year’s team,” Hansen coach Jesus Guerrero says. “We came within 2 points of playing for the district championship. We hope to keep that same confidence and momentum from last year’s district run rolling into this season.” Hansen returns senior Jonathan Camarillo, an All-Conference selection a year ago. Other returning starters are juniors Tom Gibson and Jacob Pittman, and sophomore Salvador Camarillo.
When asked about potential dark horse teams in the Sawtooth Conference, Dietrich coach Wayne Dill has one answer. “Richfield,” he says. “They have a sophomore group that has been together since the 3rd grade, with good skills and a year’s growth and development. They are hungry. They will make the jump this year.” That strong sophomore class for the Tigers includes Luke Dalton, Hudsun Lucero, Clay Kent and Carsn Perkes.
Sun Valley Community School fielded an extremely young team last year, with four juniors and seven sophomores. Most of those players return for the Cutthroats, and will be led by new coach Clay Wawner. “This is my first year coaching the team,” Wawner says. “But watching them play last year, especially towards the end of the year, the game seemed to slow down a bit for the guys and they started to come together as a team.” Junior center Sid Tomlinson is among Sun Valley’s top returnees.
Castleford featured even more youth than SVCS last year, with five sophomores and four freshmen. The Wolves are hoping another year of experience is the key to success this year. Castleford will be coached once again by AW Wells.
Hagerman finished towards the bottom of the league standings last year, but optimism remains high for the Pirates. Senior post Jesse Titone just wrapped up another outstanding season on the football field, and will try to carry that play into basketball season.