Photo By Kelly Magee - # 2 Hailey Harris
3A Mountain Rivers Conference Preview
Written by Sven Alskog
Players to Watch
Mardee Fillmore (Sugar-Salem)
Hailey Harris (Sugar-Salem)
Kinley Brown (Teton)
Tatum Streit (Teton)
Rylie Neville (South Fremont)
Kinley Geisler (South Fremont)
After appearing in three consecutive state championship games, Sugar-Salem lost in the opening round to eventual title winner Timberlake last year, leaving the Diggers hungry for another opportunity this season.
Sugar-Salem star Mardee Fillmore averaged 14.7 points and eight rebounds per game as a junior and returns for her senior season ready for another big campaign.
Joining Fillmore as a key contributor will once again be Hailey Harris, a junior who contributed 10.5 points and six rebounds per game last year.
Five seniors graduated from the roster that led the Diggers to the consolation title, with the production of Macey Fillmore perhaps the largest loss.
Entering her ninth season on the sideline, head coach Crystal Dayley has already won three championships, something which is once again within reach.
The Diggers were not the only team in the Mountain Rivers Conference to experience plenty of success last year though, as Teton went 19-10 and made a trip to the state tournament, which culminated with a loss in the consolation final against Sugar-Salem.
Teton head coach Shon Kunz loses his entire starting lineup from that team however, leaving junior guard Kinley Brown in a position where she will be relied upon for even greater production. Tatum Streit is another player to watch for the Timberwolves.
For Teton, five of their losses came against Sugar-Salem last year, including twice at districts and once in the state tournament.
A familiar face in the conference takes over on the sideline in St. Anthony, where former Teton assistant Jacob Zarpentine will take on his first varsity head coaching position.
All-Conference selection Rylie Neville and honorable mention pick Kinley Geisler combine together to form a solid returning backcourt for the Cougars.
Sophomore guard Berklee Yancey and senior forward Taylyn Cordingley are a pair of other talents that the new coach is excited about.
“Berklee is hard to rattle, is an inside and outside offensive threat and is strong and smart on defense,” Zarpentine said. “Taylyn is strong and tough defensively. She will fit in perfectly with our offense.”
After watching South Fremont from the chair of an opposing coach last year, there are some key strengths for the team that he hopes to see continue to develop.
“I have a tough, fast and resilient group that plays with aggression,” Zarpentine added. “I hope to amplify those positives from last year.”
Running the offense more efficiently and boxing out were listed as areas of emphasis for improvement for the Cougars.
South Fremont will also be looking to replace the productivity of Karlee Thueson and Tyleigh Hill.
With so much new in the conference outside of Sugar-Salem, it will be interesting to see how things shake out.
“Sugar-Salem will never surprise anyone with how good they are on a consistent basis,” Zarpentine said. “Teton loses their whole starting lineup from last year, but has a very good junior class that can make waves.”