Photo By Steve Conner - Grace Jackson
3A Snake River Valley Conference
Written by Jake Caccavaro
Players to Watch
Maddy Erickson, Weiser
Matty Shirts, Weiser
Brooke Richardson, McCall-Donnelly
Jaeda Moyer, McCall-Donnelly
Madisyn Collingwood, Payette
Kendyl Parsons, Payette
Grace Jackson, Parma
Brooke Johnson, Parma
Austyn Harris, Parma
Madi Fritts, Fruitland
Brooke Johnson, Fruitland
Payton Fritts, Fruitland
The 3A Snake River Valley Conference should have a familiar name at the top of the standings come season’s end this year: Parma High School.
They’ll be without SRV Player of the Year Adyson Harris and first team All-SRV selection Megan Hancock, but the Panthers are returning three All-SRV players: senior forward Grace Jackson, senior center Brooke Johnson and junior forward Austyn Harris.
Headlined by those three, Parma is going to be big. That frontcourt trio will suffocate opposing teams on defense and overpower teams on offense. Manning the backcourt is the guard duo of senior Maggie Shaw and sophomore Taylor Kaiser.
The Panthers went 21-3 last year, coming up short in the 3A state semifinals to Timberlake. An improvement on that, and subsequent state championship game appearance, should be in the cards again. Parma is a fast team, with transition points a key part of its offense. But for the Panthers to make a state championship run, improved 3-point shooting will be key.
“Our 3-point shooting percentage [last year] dipped from previous years,” said Parma Head Coach Michael Calkins. “This year we are going to focus on shooting the 3 more consistently and with more confidence.”
Fruitland will be returning three All-SRV honorees of its own in first team guard Madi Fritts, second team guard Abby Roubidoux and honorable mention guard Payton Fritts. The Grizzlies are also welcoming back junior center Graycie Huff.
That experience will be a huge advantage for a Fruitland team that qualified for the 3A state playoffs last year but lost its first-round game to Snake River. Although the Grizzlies lost leading scorer Abby Smith to graduation, they’ll boast a veteran roster.
Struggles with communication plagued Fruitland last year and is something that fourth-year head coach Amber Drollinger wants to fix; her players excel at playing as a team, and improved communication will be a boon for that chemistry.
It’s going to be McCall-Donnelly’s first year in the SRV, but seventh-year head coach Cody Hansen is excited for the opportunity.
“We just moved up to a new conference,” Hansen said. “And we are excited to see how we will match up with [the teams in] our new conference.”
Senior forward Brooke Richardson and senior center Jaeda Moyer, both all-conference honorable mentions, are back for the Vandals, who lost second team all-conference guard Jessica Jones to graduation.
“We lost Jessica Jones, our point guard,” Hansen said. “She was important to our offensive and defensive strategy. She was a great defender in man and zone and helped facilitate a lot of our offense last year.”
McCall-Donnelly also brings back senior forward Catie McCarthy and junior guard Maddy Burtenshaw, and will be welcoming a familiar face to the sidelines: former Vandals star Lexi Tinney.
“Lexi Tinney was added this year to the staff,” Hansen said. “She is a former player in our program that just completed her playing career at Whitworth College. We are excited to have her share her experience and knowledge from college basketball with our team and staff.”
Down in Payette, the Pirates are primed for a big year in Head Coach Rashell LeBow’s second year at the helm of the program. With no key players gone from last year’s team, Payette is an experienced, veteran squad.
Second team All-SRV center Madisyn Collingwood is back after a stellar sophomore campaign, and so is All-SRV honorable mention power forward Kendyl Parsons. The twin towers duo is a force to be reckoned with, especially when facing up against Parma and its massive frontcourt.
“Our inside game was very strong last season,” LeBow said. “Compared to the past, we want to continue to develop on that.”
LeBow saw a lot of things she liked from her squad last year, and with an extended offseason to improve upon what she’s seen, the Pirates have high hopes.
“We worked extremely hard on limiting our turnovers,” Lebow said. “We cut our turnover ratio in half compared to the previous seasons [and] we plan to focus on that again this season.”
Weiser is in a nearly identical situation as Payette; with a second-year head coach in Laraine Harrison and two returning All-SRV selections in senior guard Maddy Erickson and sophomore forward Matty Shirts, the Wolverines are bringing back most of their production from last year.
Sophomore wing Tobie Noyer is back at Weiser as well, along with an addition to the program that Harrison is excited about: center Jaci Yruguen.
“Jaci Yruguen should be a good addition to our varsity program,” Harrison said. “She is tall and has a nice touch shot around the basket. She gets up and down the court well for being a taller player and rebounds well.”
The defensive-minded Wolverines played consistently staunch defense last year, but if they want to take the next step, consistent offense is going to have to become the norm; no more missing open shots and losing the turnover battles.
“Our team had a lot of grit and played some solid defense [last year],” Harrison said. “We hope to continue with our scrappy defensive style and continue to get better at our offensive execution.”
Last year was Harrison’s first year as head coach at Weiser, and it was an understandable rebuilding year as the Wolverines worked to learn the system. Now, there’s no excuses.
“It will also be nice to have at least a year under our belt of working together,” Harrison said. “It takes time and work to adjust to a new coach's philosophy and style, and this year we will have some familiarity going into our season.”
It looks like Homedale could be in for another tough season this year. The Trojans won just a single game in a dismal 1-20 season and lost starting point guard Gracie Dines to graduation.
After taking over as head coach midway through last season, Kortney Ford is back at the helm for her first full season as head coach. Ford was the junior varsity head coach for four seasons before taking over last year.
“The team struggled with confidence and passion for the game last year,” Ford said. “I believe with this new group we will have a completely different outlook on the game. We also struggled to score last year and we have several great outside shooters this year.”
That new group consists of nine players new to varsity in what will certainly be a rebuilding year for the Trojans.
“This year we have nine players that are new to varsity,” Ford said. “I expect Jacy Parker, a sophomore, to make a huge impact on this varsity team. She sees the court well and knows the game. We also have two freshmen, Zayne Hall and Olivia Asumendi, on varsity that will play a big role on the team.”