1ADI White Pine Conference Preview
Written by Will Hoenike
Players to Watch:
Will Casebolt, Logos
Roman Nuttbrock, Logos
Titus Yearout, Lapwai
Kross Taylor, Lapwai
Connor Jackson, Clearwater Valley
Darrick Baier, Troy
Dawson Durham, Genesee
Cy Wareham, Genesee
Sam Spence, Genesee
Carson Schwartz, Genesee
Cole Schlader, Prairie
Zach Rambo, Prairie
Jace Sams, Kamiah
The good news for long-time Logos head coach Matt Whitling is that he has Will Casebolt and Roman Nuttbrock back this season. The two, now juniors, combined to average nearly 40 points per game last season and Casebolt was selected the 1A Division 2 White Pine Player of the Year.
The team even came within a bucket of advancing to the classification’s state tournament play-in game at the end of February.
But rather than fine-tuning for another run toward the state tournament this season, Whitling and his troops are learning a whole new league after moving up a classification to the 1A Division 1 White Pine League.
“We are new to 1A Division 1 and are looking forward to a whole new slate of league games,” Whitling said.
Defending district champion Potlatch, coming off a 21-win season and an appearance in the 1A Division 1 state semifinals last season, may as well be new to the conference as well. Veteran head coach Ryan Ball fielded a varsity team last season comprised solely of seniors.
“We are probably the only team in the state with zero varsity points returning this season,” Ball said.
Notably, the Loggers will have to replace two-time All-State honoree Brayden Hadaller and fellow all-stater Connor Akins, each of whom graduated last spring. Juniors Tyler Howard and Dominic Brown are likely to step into key roles for Potlatch.
The district’s runner-up last spring, Lapwai, doesn’t have that problem. The Wildcats feature one of the state’s top returning players at any level, guard Titus Yearout, and his backcourt running mate Kross Taylor. The two juniors are already highly decorated with multiple honors and have plenty of help as they look to return to the state tournament once again.
“We were very young last year with not a lot of experience in versity minutes,” head coach Zachary Eastman said. “Now, with all our returning players, we have a lot of experience and we are adding more weapons to our team this year.”
Along with Yearout and Taylor, fellow juniors Alexander Ellenwood and Lydell Mitchell return for Lapwai, along with sophomore Terrell Ellenwood-Jones. Eastman also expects freshman Kase Whynot, a 6-foot-3 freshman guard, to contribute for the Wildcats.
Lapwai has reached the 1A Division 1 state tournament each of the past seven seasons, reaching the semifinals each time and winning back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018. The program has won ten state titles overall, one of the top marks in the state of Idaho.
Aaron Skinner’s Kamiah Kubs are coming off a 19-win season and a state-tournament appearance. The team returns all-conference forward Jace Sams, along with guards Kavan Mercer and Luke Krogh. The two guards were pivotal in the team’s play-in victory over Butte County that sent it to the state tournament, a one-point victory that came down to the final shot.
The Troy Trojans and Genesee Bulldogs each return key players after falling just short of the play-in game. For Genesee, Dawson Durham, Sam Spence, Carson Schwartz, and Cy Wareham each return to create a core that other coaches in the White Pine have their eyes on.
“They have four players with a lot of varsity experience,” said Ball of Potlatch. “They definitely will be an improved team as compared to last season.”
Troy returns a veteran guard, senior Kaiden Codr, and two experienced post players, senior Darrick Baier and junior Boden Demeerler, to a team that won twelve games last season, including a pair of regular-season triumphs over Genesee. The team does need to replace departed seniors Grayson Foster and Zachary Stoner, who combined to average 30 points per game last season. Sophomores Noah Johnson and Chandler Blazzard are expected to fill roles on the varsity team.
For head coach Kelly Carlstrom, the key to Troy’s season likely lies near the hoop.
“We did a good job (last season) of getting the ball to the post, which will hopefully carry into the 2020-21 campaign,” Carlstrom said of the team’s offense, before mentioning the defense, “Last year’ we gave teams a direct line to the basket on the bounce. We hope to limit our opponent’s dribble-drive to the hoop.”
All-conference guard Cole Schlader returns for Prairie as the Pirates look to improve upon their 13-win season from a year ago. Prairie was hot down the stretch, winning seven of nine games before back-to-back defeats in the district tournament ended the team’s season. Zach Rambo, Tyler Wemhoff and Wyatt Ross are among the players who will look to step into bigger roles to help the Pirates this season.
The new kid on the block, so to speak, is CJ Woods at Clearwater Valley. The first-year coach has senior guard Connor Jackson, who earned honorable-mention accolades last season. The Rams also return senior guard Luke Olson and senior forward Jacob Kolb. Despite the team’s final record (just three wins), Clearwater Valley was competitive – six of the Rams’ losses were by less than ten points, including three that were by four points or less – and Woods is hopeful that the team can get over the hump in some of those tight contests this season.
“Last year, the team did a good job of using their athleticism to their benefit,” Woods said. “When everyone was on the same page and active, last year was a very strong team. We want to continue that. First, we do want to utilize our athleticism and exploit weaknesses. We would like to carry that over from last year.”
Lapwai has the look of a state-title contender, but there are plenty of competitive programs in the White Pine. Expect to see several teams in tight competition for berths to the annual state tournament, though the Wildcats seem the best bet to emerge with yet another state championship trophy.