3A South East Idaho Conference Preview
Written by Madison Guernsey
Players to Watch
Britton Bolgen (American Falls)
Taeson deBruijn (American Falls)
Jeremy Henesh (American Falls)
Cody Hansen (Marsh Valley)
Bracken Howell (Marsh Valley)
Karter Howell (Marsh Valley)
Mitch Lindsay (Snake River)
It can be easy to overlook sustained excellence. Heck, it can get stale if you’re an impartial fan.
It doesn’t get old for the Snake River Panthers, one of the most consistent boys basketball programs in Idaho.
Led by head coach Robert Coombs, who’s been at the helm for nearly three decades, Snake River enters each season as the favorite to win 3A District 5. By the end of most seasons, it claims another state tournament trophy to proudly display. Coombs and the Panthers head into the 2020-21 campaign with their sights set on district title No. 6 in a row and another trip to the 3A state tournament, where they’ve captured 14 trophies during Coombs’ tenure.
The Panthers return much of last season’s team, which went 15-10 and won the consolation trophy at state. They also bring back senior Mitch Lindsay, who was a key contributor as a sophomore but missed last season with a knee injury.
It’s never easy to topple the giants the Panthers have built themselves to be in East Idaho, but Marsh Valley has the best chance to do so.
The Eagles are the last non-Panthers team to win a 3A District 5 crown and were competitive with Snake River last season, going 1-4 head-to-head with an average margin of 6.4 points in the series. Marsh Valley has qualified for state two years in a row, reaching the semifinals in 2019.
The Eagles are under new leadership this season, with former assistant coach Kent Howell taking the reins. Howell coached Marsh Valley’s baseball program to a state title in 2019 and was a standout athlete at the school in the 1990s. He inherits a stocked cupboard that includes senior guard Bracken Howell, who averaged 16.9 points per game and was second-team all-state last season.
Howell and the Eagles will build upon the foundation laid by former head coach Jason Brower, who left his post at Marsh Valley to be the head coach at conference rival American Falls, his alma mater. Brower is undertaking a reclamation project at his new job — the Beavers haven’t been to state since 1999 — and hopes a change of scenery will benefit himself and the program.
American Falls went 0-22 last season.
“We are a completely new (coaching) staff,” Brower said. “Our goal is to bring new ideas and energy to the program. We are looking forward to the opportunity to get better. Every game will be a chance to improve.”
A.F.’s top returners are seniors Taeson deBruijn (guard), Britton Bolgen (post) and Jeremy Henesh (forward), giving the Beavers senior leadership at every position. “The program will be looking for players who can improve our team,” Brower said. “Our goal is to find players that will work hard both on and off the court.”