Written by: Sven Alskog
1AD1 Whitepine League
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
7. Clearwater Valley
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Emmit Taylor III, Senior, Lapwai
Payton Sobotta, Junior, Lapwai
Keith Kipp Jr., Senior, Lapwai
Isaac Stoner, Senior, Troy
Kaleb Oatman, Senior, Kamiah
Luke Snyder, Senior, Kamiah
Dacota Hadaller, Junior, Potlatch
Hunter Chaffee, Senior, Prairie
Spencer Schumacher, Junior, Prairie
Lapwai and Prairie battled it out in a competitive contest in the 1AD1 state title tilt last season, with the Wildcats coming out on top in the end by a 57-49 final.
Those Wildcats lost six seniors, including State Player of the Year Ivory Miles-Williams, now a member of the College of Idaho basketball team.
On the other side of things, the Pirates will be without four of five starters from a year ago, including dominating interior presence Patrick Chmelik.
Fortunately for both teams, the talent pool is still as full as ever, something which has been consistent at each school for quite some time now.
Lapwai will be led by arguably the best player in the state at the 1AD1 ranks in Emmit Taylor III. Payton Sobotta, Kendall Leighton and Keith Kipp Jr. are the other returners. Each provides their own individual strengths to the team, with Kipp Jr. a good interior option and Leighton and Sobotta good ball-handlers who can knock down shots.
“The four returning players are excited about the opportunity to increase their roles and play a tough schedule. The new players are excited to play at the varsity level and be a part of Wildcat basketball,” said Lapwai head coach Bob Sobotta.
Opposing teams will have a hard time keeping up with the pace of Lapwai again this season, especially with knock-down shooters on the floor who can allow for a half-court style of play when necessary.
“We like to play an up-tempo game with pressure defense. We are a work in progress at both ends now, so will see how our chemistry comes together,” added Sobotta.
With 80 percent of the starting lineup gone to graduation, Prairie will rely heavily on Hunter Chaffee and Spencer Schumacher to fill the void, along with a core of JV players who will be transitioning to the varsity level.
“I am excited to have the younger student-athletes step up to the varsity level and build a cohesive team that is competitive in the Whitepine League and makes a run at another state tournament appearance. A couple of key players this year will be Hunter Chaffee and Spencer Schumacher. Their athletic ability and leadership will be key to our success,” said second year head coach Kevin Chaffee.
Stylistically it should be a similar look to a year ago for Prairie, although the actual strengths of the group will be determined as the season goes on with all the new faces in place.
“We like to run some transition offense, along with a structured half-court offensive approach. On the defensive end, we like to play a combination of man and zone defense and I emphasize defensive intensity and pressure defense. It is hard to tell what we do well because of the amount of players that graduated last year, but to be successful this season we need to develop as a team,” added Chaffee.
A team that looks primed to take the next step is Potlatch.
The Loggers went 16-8 last year and welcome back junior Honorable Mention All-Conference forward Dacota Hadaller.
Combined with Chris Judson, Garrett Thompson and Conner Akins, the group in place should make Potlatch a tough out in the Whitepine.
“Hoping to build off of some of the success we had last season. The players are more adept on the style in which I want to practice and play, so the learning curve is not quite as steep as it was last season,” said second year head coach Ryan Ball.
Pace of play will be determined on a per-game basis depending on the opponent.
“[We] would like to play up-tempo on both the offensive and defensive end, but our players and opponents will dictate exactly how we will play. If we need to be more deliberate to give us a better chance at beating a certain opponent, then we will play at a slower pace,” added Ball.
In such a challenging league with pressure defenses all-around, Potlatch will need to get quick progression from its new backcourt.
“This league is very difficult, so in order to win it you must play excellent basketball every game. It will be very difficult for us because of our lack of experience at the guard position, but if we get better in that area we should have a competitive team,” said Ball.
Genesee won 12 games last season. The Bulldogs may struggle a little bit early in the season as players adjust from football to basketball, however the team should remain competitive in most games as the year progresses.
Kamiah has a new head coach in Aaron Skinner, as the team looks to improve on a 4-16 mark last season.
The five players who will be on the floor primarily for the Kubs have played together for years, so that should help with the transition.
“We have five kids that have played a lot of basketball together. They are familiar with each other’s style of play and should be fun to watch,” added Skinner.
Senior forward Luke Snyder and senior guard Kaleb Oatman highlight those players, while Tyrell Henry and Ben Dunning should make big impacts as well.
“Our style of play will be fast-paced on both ends of the floor. We have good speed and some depth that will give us the ability to play this way. Our rebounding ability will need to improve if we are to be successful this season,” said Skinner.
The Troy roster is led by senior Isaac Stoner, who will be asked to light up the scoreboard in hopes of turning around the fortunes of a six-win team from last season.
Craig Shorey is in his first season as the head coach for Clearwater Valley and has an almost entirely new-look varsity roster at his disposal.