American Falls High School
Conference: 3A South East Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Tyler Shafer
Years as Head Coach: 3rd season
Previous Experience: 5 years as Head Coach at Harper (OR) HS
State Titles: 2000
Photo By: Kyle Riley - #40 Sammie Neaman
Written by: Sven Alskog
Following a strong 14-7 season that surprised many around the state, the American Falls Beavers will have to find a way to replace many of the key pieces of that outstanding group.
Of those losses, the most glaring will be point guard Maria Sanchez, also an outstanding soccer player who has moved on to the pitch at Davis Field for Idaho State University this fall. Sanchez was a defensive force for the Beavers, consistently shutting down her opposition. Losing her double-digit scoring and ability to get her teammates involved will be difficult for Head Coach Tyler Shafer to replace.
American Falls also lost Lindsey Woodworth, the IdahoSports.com Student Athlete of the Year last year. Woodworth filled up the stat sheet as well, performing admirably all season, including a double-double, one of two on the season, in the district tournament against the Bear Lake Bears.
Shelby Hunt and Hunter Morris are other key contributors who have graduated, leaving some holes all over the floor for the team.
Last season many of the younger players who will be expected to take on bigger roles this time around received playing time in big situations, allowing them to be better prepared to take over.
The previous campaign was highlighted by an appearance in the 3A Southeast Idaho Conference championship game, falling 45-42 to Snake River in a heartbreaker at Highland High School in Pocatello.
Shafer will rely on two seniors to carry the bulk of the scoring responsibilities this season.
Daisha Leyshon and Sammie Neaman contributed in important roles last year, but with the absences of Sanchez and Woodworth, will see their impacts felt on a much greater scale now. Leyshon is 6’0” tall, giving her the size to be the go-to player down low for the Beavers. Neaman is more of a jump shot shooter who led the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds per contest.
Along with Leyshon and Neaman, fellow senior Mikah Fehringer has the ability to add some inside scoring punch as well with her 5’11” frame. Both Fehringer and Leyshon averaged over 7 rebounds per game last season.
The coach is excited about what he has on the floor this season.
“We return our leading scorer (Neaman), two solid posts (Leyshon, Fehringer) and a point guard (Wagoner) who gained some valuable experience last year off the bench,” said Shafer. “The newcomers give us more depth and versatility. We will be a quick, balanced team who can hurt you in a variety of ways. We also have a chance to be excellent defensively.”
He expects the group to build its own identity as the season goes on.
“We will push the ball consistently, attacking whenever possible,” said Shafer. “What we lack in size, we will make up for with overall team speed. We will focus on all players being complete offensive players; creating opportunities for themselves and their teammates. We also will be tenacious on defense, changing up our looks to make our opponents uncomfortable and out-of-sync.”
This season expects to see more of the high-octane approach on the offensive end, while the Beavers will also still attack on the defensive side of things as Shafer aims to best fit the talents of his team.