Rocky Mountain Conference Preview
Players to Watch
Raquelle Trogden, Grace Lutheran
Paige Ramsey, Leadore
Chloe Fullmer, Mackay
Riley Moore, Mackay
Trinity Seefried, Mackay
Makayla Mabey, North Gem
Kiersley Boyer, Rockland
Ember Farr, Rockland
Reesha Pokibro, Sho-Ban
Riley Winkelmann, Watersprings
A year ago, the Rocky Mountain Conference was top heavy, as Mackay, Rockland and Sho-Ban battled all season long for supremacy. Mackay ended up winning the regular season and district tournament titles, but Rockland had the last laugh, winning its first state championship in school history and finishing 23-3.
Veteran coach Vern Nelson acknowledges that a lot of talented players graduated in the offseason, including All-State guard Madalyn Permann.
“She was our go-to player for scoring,” Coach Nelson said. “She finished with 1,578 points for her career, had a great understanding of the game, and was our leader out on the floor.”
However, the cupboard isn’t completely bare. Junior post Kiersley Boyer earned Second-Team All-State honors last season, and will pair up with fellow junior Ember Farr to give the Bulldogs a nice one-two tandem inside. Seniors Hillary Hansen, Angie Lee and Whitney Peterson will lead Rockland from the backcourt, and Coach Nelson will also lean on two varsity newcomers: sophomores Addie and Taylor Wilson.
Overall, Nelson feels defense will be the strength of his team once again.
“We will not be as deep in player depth as last season, but we still plan to stretch the floor with our defense and run the floor offensively when the opportunities are available,” Nelson said. “Defense was our strength last season and it is our emphasis this season.”
Mackay returns to the hardwood in 2020 hungry and motivated after suffering an opening-round loss at state last year to eventual runner-up Carey. The Miners led 33-26 after three quarters of play, but Carrey rallied back in the fourth and won 42-39. From there, Mackay advanced to the consolation final, where they fell to Lighthouse Christian by six. Miners Head Coach Kashia Hale welcomes back three First-Team All-Conference performers from a year ago: senior point guard Riley Moore, senior post Chloe Fullmer and junior guard Trinity Seefried.
Sho-Ban finished 16-6 a year ago, with four of those six losses coming against Rockland and Mackay. The Chiefs are looking for a new leader to emerge, as do-everything point guard Harley Jackson has taken her talents to Rocky Mountain College, an NAIA school in Billings, Montana. Senior forward Reesha Pokibro earned All-Conference honors a year ago and could fill that void.
Leadore went 5-8 a year ago, but many coaches view the Mustangs as a sleeper in the conference. Veteran coach Richard Barany retired in the offseason and will be replaced by Janet Proulx, a 2009 graduate of Leadore High. Senior guard Paige Ramsey will lead a veteran Mustang team in 2020.
North Gem has a new coach as well, but it’s a familiar face to Cowboys and Cowgirls fans. Ken Christensen previously led the North Gem boys for 16 years across two separate stints, and won a state title in 1995. He now takes over the girls program for the first time in his career.
“North Gem only had enough girls to field one team last year, and it looks like we will be in the same situation this year,” Christensen said. “I expect all the young ladies to step up and fill the spots left by seniors. I am also very excited about the incoming freshmen.”
Among the players North Gem is relying on this year are senior guard Makayla Mabey and junior guard Dannika Barfuss.
Seniors Jessica Merkle and Riley Winklemann helped lead the Watersprings volleyball team to a fourth-place finish at state earlier this fall. Those two will try to continue that success on the basketball court for Warriors head coach Dave Faulkner.
An extremely young Grace Lutheran team struggled a year ago. But head coach Ryan Strehlow brings back eight of his top nine varsity players in 2020, led by junior Raquelle Trogden and sophomore Allie Austin.
After a two-year hiatus, the Clark County Bobcats have put together a varsity schedule in 2020. They will be led by head coach Ashley Shenton.