Ririe High School
Conference: 2A Nuclear Conference
Head Coach: Damien Smith
Years as Head Coach: 7th Season
Previous Experience: Ririe Boys Basketball Assistant Coach - 4 years
Shelley Boys Basketball Assistant Coach - 1 year
Record Last Year: 22-5
State Titles: None
Who do you have coming back this year?
Brooke Griffith - 5'3 SR Point Guard
Sicilee Williams - 5'9 SR Wing
Savanna Gamett - 5'5 JR Wing
Emily Burden - 5'10 SR Post
Any Returning Players with Honors?
Sicilee Williams - First Team All-Nuclear Conference, Second Team 2A All-State
Any “Key Players” that you lost from last year?
Madeline Connaughton - Forward
Amy Johnson - Forward
Photo By: Steve Conner - #12 Sicilee Williams
Written by: Matt Harris
Up the mountain they climb.
The Ririe Lady Bulldogs basketball program has taken steps up that proverbial mountain each year under head coach Damien Smith, now in his seventh season.
In 2013, it was Ririe securing their first trophy of any kind in girls basketball with a third-place finish at the state tournament. Last season, it was a runner-up finish in the state championship game, falling to Nuclear conference foe Firth at the Ford Idaho Center.
What will it be this year? While that will have to play out on the court, Smith is excited about this year's squad.
"I have two 3-year starters returning and a two-year starter coming back as well. That is going to be a lot of fun to work with," he said.
Those starters he is referring to are 5'3" senior point guard Brooke Griffith and 5'5" junior Savanna Gammet filling the guard slots, with second-team all-state selection Sicilee Williams, a 5'9" senior wing, bringing the firepower offensively.
"Sicilee is a phenomenal scorer", Smith said. Williams was named to the IdahoSports.com 2A Girls All-Tournament First Team for her performance at the state tournament last year, largely in part to her instant offense for Ririe.
As with all schools, especially smaller schools like Ririe, graduation can take a hit on the makeup of a team. That is true for the Bulldogs, who lose dual low-post threats Madeline Connaughton and Amy Johnson this year.
"Madeline and Amy are both tough to replace", Smith said. "Madeline's leadership every day in practice and how she demanded through her example and work ethic that everyone give their best effort every day will be sorely missed."
Smith had much of the same praise for Johnson too.
"Amy's defensive presence in the middle will be hard to replace", he said, noting that her competitive drive fit in well with Connaughton's leadership.
It's tough to replace a legitimate post-threat at any school, let alone two of them on the same team. This year, the focus will shift gears more towards the guard-play.
"Our guard play defensively is our strength heading into the year", Smith said. "We hope to pressure the ball a little more this year than last."
Smith mentioned that the guards will also have to pick up the slack offensively as well since the post play will be down from last year overall. With Ririe's ability to shoot from the outside, that may not be too much of a problem. In fact, that aspect of their offense fits in well with their theme for this year.
"Make It Rain", Smith said. "Each player is a drop of water, but together we make it rain."
Even though Ririe brings back most of their state runner-up team from a year ago, Smith knows it will be a dogfight to the end.
"Nuclear Conference games are always great to watch", he said. "The talent of each team in the league is so close, which makes every game a classic."
Of the games to watch on the 2014-15 schedule, Smith pointed to their home-and-home set with 3A Sugar-Salem as a measuring stick.
"Sugar-Salem is one of the best, if not THE best 3A girls basketball teams in the state."
If you didn't pick up on it, he's really saying "Mark Dec. 12 & 23 on your calendars: those will be fun games to watch."
The climb is steep, with pitfalls along the way, but Smith believes Ririe can reach the apex of the 2A basketball mountain.