5A Southern Idaho Conference Preview
Written by Brandon Hill
Players to Watch
Nate Cherry, Capital
Lukas Broadsword, Centennial
Brody Rowbury, Meridian
Bayler Perrin, Mountain View
Jack Payne, Boise
Abram Zweigle, Skyview
Cooper Lumsden, Timberline
Jaden Hansen, Rocky Mountain
Donovan Jones, Eagle
Ray Ray Bergeson, Borah
Sean Austin, Kuna
The boys are back in town, with the 5A Southern Idaho Conference back in action after COVID-19 restrictions shut down Boise schools.
But with those restrictions lifted, Timberline, Capital, Boise and the defending state champion Borah Lions can hit the hardwood to close out 2020.
Unlike their girls basketball counterpart, Borah will make a run at another title without a majority of their starters that made the last two back-to-back championships possible. While the Mountain View girls enjoy spoils of experienced talent, the Lions lost two lockdown seniors in Austin Bolt and Isaac Dewberry.
Ray Ray Bergeson will return to the Lions lineup, faced with the large task of filling Bolt and Dewberry's shoes. But with plenty of tournament experience under his belt, Bergeson could give the Lions a spark down the stretch, something Timberline Head Coach Travis Noble sees as a serious possibility.
“They have really tough kids who commit to playing together and competing,” Noble said.
Timberline was one of many SIC teams that earned a bid to state. The Wolves went 0-2 in the opening rounds, but plenty of Treasure Valley coaches said they think Nobles’ returning starters could make a case for the district crown.
Noble returns senior guard Cooper Lumsden, a second-team all-conference selection from last year, along with seniors Garret Long and Ryan Raad
“We do have some new guys that could see some minutes at the varsity level. Time will tell which players those are,” Noble said. “We have a group of newcomers that are all in the same group. Practice time, commitment, and willingness to do what the team needs will determine which players end up filling roles on the varsity team.”
Of all the teams in this year’s SIC, Noble said Rocky Mountain has the easiest path to a state championship appearance. The Grizzlies reached the semifinals last year after winning the district tournament, but were beat out by the Post Falls Trojans.
But for Rocky Mountain to succeed, Head Coach Dane Roy’s grand experiment this offseason needs to pay off.
Roy, now in his 10th year with the program, said he returns zero key starters from last year’s third-place team.
“Our top eight players are all gone from last season. Jaden Hansen (who was a four-year letterman and had a very good shot at being player of the year) tore his ACL in October and will be out for the year.”
Without Hansen, Roy will lean on some JV recruits in Drew Fielder and Blake Munk, along with Jaden Melton at the wing position.
“We need to learn to play together during the big moments of games,” Roy said. “We anticipate having a lot of close games in a very difficult conference.”
With Borah and Rocky Mountain playing without a majority of last year’s starters, the road seems clearer than ever for the Meridian Warriors to continue building on last year’s momentum and potentially earn top billing heading into state. Jeff Sanor’s squad finished second in the conference last year, but lost in the opening round of state to Rocky Mountain.
“The conference is going to be very tight this year,” Sanor said. “Each game will be a difficult challenge for teams. If a team doesn’t come prepared to compete, they will lose.”
On the opposite side of the coin of the Grizzlies, Mountain View returns all of its starters off last year’s 5-13 team, giving the Mavs the most familiar faces in the conference this year. Bayler Perrin headlines the starting lineup, earning an honorable mention nod in last year’s all-state selections. Noah White, Tyler Clayton and Leyton Smithson fill out Head Coach Jon Nettleton’s team.
This year, Eagle and Boise will be on the bubble after finishing last season in the middle of the pack. The Mustangs should have a crop of returning talent on this year’s squad, while the Brave, according to Roy, has a rising star that could make the difference and get Boise back in the playoffs.
“Jack Payne can guard every position, has an incredible motor, and can score in multiple ways for Boise,” he said.
Scott Moore, head coach at Capital, agreed.
“Jack Payne and Whitt Miller provide a huge 1-2 punch for Boise,” he said. “And, that team is so well coached, that those guys will be ready to go once games begin.”
Moore, who spent time with Kim Brydges at Boise years ago, hopes his own Eagles can rebound after a three-win season in 2019-2020.
“Defensively we gave up too many easy points, either in transition or from the free-throw line,” Moore said. “A strong defensive focus will be ours this season, as conditioning for this shortened, yet intense season is a big-time emphasis of ours.”
Conditioning will be a challenge, not just for the SIC, but especially the Boise schools, with a shortened preseason giving the four programs minimal time to prepare for the season. Without a normal preseason, coaches like Moore haven’t had ample time to evaluate new players.
“One player to really keep an eye on though is Titus Bailey. He’s a sophomore, and played some big minutes on Varsity for us last year. He’s put in a TON of work this off-season and we anticipate him to be a major contributor this season, and provide some much needed scoring help to Nate (Cherry) and Max (Clark).
Centennial will be another team on the outside looking in. After missing the state tournament, Head Coach Josh Aipperspach said his team enters the year extremely motivated to not let history repeat itself.
Lukas Broadsword will be key in that happening after an All-Conference honorable mention nod last year.
“This year we will have a lot of talented new faces,” Aipperspach said. “I expect a lot of different guys to make an immediate impact at the Varsity level.”
Kuna rounds out the SIC, bumping up to 5A in all sports over the summer. Sean Austin, the Kavemen QB who won the team a 4A state football championship last year, should return to the team and make an immediate impact as a senior.