Mountain Home High School
Conference: 4A Southern Idaho Conference
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Mountain Home High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Brion Bethel
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Record Last Year: 5-17
State Titles: None
Nehemiah Parker, 11, W
Kevin Catlin, 12, W
Key Players lost from last year:
Tyriq Perry, 6'7" post who moved to California
Written by: Sven Alskog
4A Southern Idaho Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
2. Bishop Kelly
8. Mountain Home
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Max Rice, Senior, Bishop Kelly
DJ Crump, Senior, Emmett
Cayden Wright, Senior, Skyview
Steele Hadlock, Senior, Vallivue
Carter Arrasmith, Senior, Middleton
Amoro Lado, Junior, Vallivue
Nehemiah Parker, Junior, Mountain Home
Jayson Hibbard, Senior, Skyview
It’s a toss-up for conference supremacy in the 4A SIC this season, with Skyview, Bishop Kelly and Vallivue all receiving multiple first place votes in the preseason coaches poll.
The Skyview Hawks have All-Conference performers Cayden Wright and Jayson Hibbard back, along with point guard Chris Kielman and forward Demonte Horton.
It’s a senior heavy group, which gives the team more experience than anyone else in the conference, something which should pay off in a big way during close games and heading into districts in February.
“I think we are most excited about all of the pieces that we have coming back from last year’s team, combined with the players coming up from our JV team that won the district championship last year. We feel that together we form a very balanced, experienced and talented team,” said Skyview head coach Aaron Sanders.
For Sanders, he acknowledges there are some things to work on, but the Hawks are hoping most of those growth opportunities have already taken place.
“Last year we played pretty well on both ends of the floor at times but we weren’t very consistent. This year I think we will shoot the ball better offensively and we are more balanced, so hopefully that will lead to us being more consistent offensively. Defensively we tended to wait for offense to energize us to play hard on the defensive end. This year we need to consistently bring maximum effort and focus to how well we defend and rebound if we want to be successful.”
Bishop Kelly brings back the 4A SIC Player of the Year in Max Rice, a Boise State commit.
While the Knights may have lost some talented players that surrounded him a year ago, there is no question that this team will be right in the thick of things within the conference and the state again this season.
“I’m sure they will be picked top three in the league, but the reason I am calling them a surprise is because I think some people will write them off after losing a lot of key senior leaders and playmakers. I don’t think this team will miss a beat. Max Rice is the best player in the league and Ryan Kerns coaches them up as well as anyone in the Treasure Valley,” said Vallivue head coach Ryan Lundgren.
It’s never easy to replace two All-Conference talents and an honorable mention, but this Bishop Kelly team should be able to keep things headed in the right direction behind its senior star.
Vallivue is the other team that received multiple first place votes in the preseason poll.
The Falcons lost First Team All-Conference point guard Nick Fitts and the entirety of the starting five from the state runner-up team last year.
While it is never ideal to lose seven of your top ten players, Vallivue appears to be well-positioned to also stay towards the top of the conference standings.
“This team is young and fearless. There is not a ton of varsity experience on this roster, which will come with its ups and downs. The thing I love about this team, is how hard they play. They don’t worry about time or score of the game, they compete and look to win each and every possession. We do not have much size, so we will be very perimeter oriented, similar to our team last year. We averaged 24 3-point attempts per game last year, and I look for that number to go up. With our guard-heavy lineup and ability to shoot the three, we will be a fun team to watch,” said Lundgren.
One of the prominent returners is Second Team All-Conference senior guard Steele Hadlock, a player with the ability to change games in a big way.
Hadlock, Amoro Lado and Gabe Childs are a trio that can matchup with anybody in Idaho, with each going to be taking on a larger role this season.
With all the quality backcourt players in place, look for a smaller lineup to be on the floor quite often for the Falcons.
“We will start five guards and look to cause mismatches with our style of play. Spacing and pace will be emphasized in the early going and it will show with our ability to spread defenses out and attack. We demand paint touches and ball swings within our spread offense, which will help us get great looks from the three-point line,” added Lundgren.
Other teams in the league expect the programs in the drivers seat to stay pretty consistent, regardless of all the losses to graduation.
“A few of the teams at the top (BK, Middleton, Vallivue) last year graduated a bunch of kids. Whichever of those teams can get the new faces acclimated the best should see the most success,” said Middleton head coach Alex Maxwell.
His Vikings lost eight seniors from last year, including Statewide All-Star game representative Reece Robinett, shooting guard David Kofoed, forward Chase Downs and posts Caden Stevenson and Tyler Wilson.
It will be up to the senior trio of Carter Arrasmith, Hayden Smith and Darin Post to step up and lead Middleton to another successful season.
“We will have a nice blend of seniors and youth, a completely different look to the team after losing eight seniors. [We] might take our lumps early, but we have the potential to be a tough team to play as the season wears on,” said Maxwell. “We would love to get out and run and shoot threes, but all of that will be dictated on how well we can defend. If we can get stops consistently we should be able to attack the other end. There will be times where we will have a bunch of shooters out there, so hopefully we can spread the floor and get good looks.”
Both Emmett and Ridgevue look much improved and could surprise some people now that each has more experience.
“I think Emmett and Ridgevue are both teams with a lot of returning players that will be tough to beat. Middleton lost a lot of seniors last year, but they have a really talented nucleus of young players. They could be tough this year as well,” said Sanders.
The Huskies are athletic, so if they can fine-tune some things, an above .500 season is well within the realm of possibility.
“I think we will play a little faster on offense and a little harder on defense this year. I think we need to knock down shots. I like our shooters this year,” said second year Emmett head coach David Dust.
DJ Crump is the player to watch for Huskies, while Brett Kern and Spencer Keene also return. Some newcomers that will see some good playing time look to be Jared Wilson and Chad Wardak.
Ridgevue enters its second season as a basketball program following a 7-15 mark in year one.
The Warhawks will be without leading scorer Conner Jenson, but fortunately the cupboard is mostly full after that, with Brock Childers, Kenny Caldwell, Colby Brown and Trever Steelsmith some of the familiar faces that will be back.
For head coach Neil Stutzman, it is easy to get excited about this team.
“This team’s ability to work hard and to keep working no matter the score. Senior guard Kenny Caldwell will look to lead our team on both ends of the floor. Sophomore Mathew Flake has [also] taken big gains over the summer to put himself in a position to contribute to the team.”
Offensively, the style may be a bit different than what most opponents are typical to seeing.
“We will try to push the ball in transition and look to get some good looks quick. [We] use a Princeton style half-court offense. We need to be efficient offensively,” said Stutzman.
Caldwell went 5-18 a year ago and Mountain Home 5-17. Both programs will be looking to get things headed in the right direction this season.
The Cougars have guards Jacob Hernandez and Julian Rico back, alongside post Brian Sanford. Those players are joined by others that head coach Trent Harrison hopes will make a big impact, such as Chase Burfiend.
It’s a gritty bunch, and against the talented teams in the conference, Caldwell will need to be just that on a nightly basis.
“This is a very tough conference night in and night out. If you don't have mental toughness throughout this long season this conference will eat you alive,” said Harrison.
Mountain Home is awfully young, with Nehemiah Parker and Kevin Catlin the most experienced out of the group.
“I’m excited about the team unity we have this year. We have an almost entirely new varsity team with very little experience, but they have great work ethic and fantastic team unity. Nehemiah Parker is one of my returning varsity players and will play a big role on our team,” said Mountain Home head coach Brion Bethel.
That youth and unity also comes with some size.
“We are a very long, athletic team. We’ll feature a high-paced offense centered around getting as many shots per game as possible and very high tempo. Our strength is the blue collar work ethic our team has. A very physical team,” added Bethel.
When all is said and done, the winner of the 4A SIC will have as good of a chance as anybody come state, with a gauntlet of a conference to get through in order to have the opportunity.