Meridian High School
Conference: 5A Southern Idaho Conference
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Meridian High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Matthew Creech
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 8 Years Assistant at Meridian
Record Last Year: 7-15
State Titles: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983
Brittney Hansen, 11, PG
Cassidey Plum, 11, G
Sydney Plum, 11, G
Alyssa Wall, 12, F
Key Players lost from last year:
Jaynee Taufoou, F
"She was a 4 year starter and Second Team All-Conference player last season. Jaynee did a little bit of everything for us. Led our team in scoring, rebounds and steals," -Coach Creech
Incoming impact players:
"We have nine new players to our team this season. Any one of them has the potential to step up and make an impact," Coach Creech
Photo By: Willy Harris - #13 Brittney Hansen
5A Southern Idaho Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
2. Mountain View
7. Rocky Mountain
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Katelyn Murray, Senior, Eagle
Janie King, Senior, Eagle
Meghan Boyd, Junior, Eagle
Alison Chanhthala, Senior, Mountain View
Peyton McFarland, Boise
Elly Johnson, Senior, Capital
Nyalam Thabach, Junior, Borah
Maddie Geritz, Senior, Borah
Alyssa Bolt, Senior, Borah
Beverly Slater, Senior, Capital
Elena McHargue, Junior, Timberline
Meghan Holloman, Senior, Kuna
With Centennial claiming the state championship last season in a 40-37 win over Eagle, the Patriots became the third consecutive SIC team to take home the 5A crown, as the conference has established a stranglehold over the classification.
As the new season begins there are multiple teams out of the league to watch yet again, highlighted by defending state runner-up Eagle, a team which has as quality of a starting five as anyone in the state, led by senior post Katelyn Murray and her fellow senior Janie King.
“Eagle is loaded with talent top to bottom, but they have three impressive players Katelyn Murray, Janie King and Meghan Boyd to keep an eye on that all have great skills, talent and experience,” said Borah head coach Jason Willer.
Murray has been receiving high praise from coaches throughout the conference.
“She can play both inside and out, and creates problems defensively whenever she is on the floor. She is a tenacious rebounder,” said Timberline head coach Todd Simpson.
Outside of Eagle, multiple teams have the potential to challenge in the conference for the state tournament spots, including Mountain View, Capital, Timberline, Boise and Borah.
While Mountain View lost a good amount of talent from last year, the Mavericks have some young up-and-coming guards that can cause matchup mismatches on a nightly basis.
“The speed of the team has improved from last year. I have three guards that have varsity experience [in] Alison Chanhthala, Darian White and Laila Saenz,” said Mountain View head coach Connie Skogrand.
After Eagle and Mountain View, it looks to be an exciting race for the remaining 2.5 spots into the state tournament.
All of the Boise School District teams have the potential for a state tournament trip this season, with Borah, Capital, Timberline and Boise all having quality groups in place.
The return of All-Conference selection Beverly Slater and Honorable Mention selections Elly Johnson and Yesenya Bendinelli makes Capital a popular choice to make its first trip to the state tournament since 2014.
“Elly Johnson is another player that should lead her team to a lot of success this season. She has great energy and skills that combine with good players around her and should make her one of the best players in the league this season,” said Willer.
While opposing coaches take notice, the Capital coaching staff is excited about the prospects of what having all that returning experience back can mean for the new season.
“We are excited about all of the experience that we bring back. With so many returners who have that varsity experience we feel like we should be able to compete with anyone in the state. Their maturity has us way ahead of schedule with the game plan for the season, which should give us a lot more time to fine-tune what we think will lead us to success,” said Capital head coach Blas Telleria.
The length of the Eagles in particular has the potential to make things awfully difficult for their opponents.
“We are a really long, athletic team, so we should be able to really fly around and make things difficult on the defensive end and be able to make things happen fast in a wide variety of ways on the offensive end,” added Telleria.
Timberline has three Honorable Mention All-Conference returners in Elena McHargue, Ashlyn Ascuena-Mercil and Emma Ellinghouse.
“Timberline is gonna be tough. They can match up with anyone physically and they are tough group to compete against. Todd has done a great job of building that group up to where they are now,” said Meridian head coach Matthew Creech.
Both the Wolves and Borah can challenge for one of the playoff spots.
“I think we are a sneaky team. I also think Borah is a sneaky team. They have a lot of players back, and their toughness makes them a team that can grind out wins. They may not be as flashy as other teams, but they will punch you in the mouth when you step on the floor with them,” said Simpson.
With Second Team All-Conference forward Alyssa Bolt entering her senior season and Honorable Mention selection Maddie Geritz doing the same, the Lions should be able to execute their half court style on offense and defense well. According to Willer, Borah will rebound and play tough defense very well.
He also likes the gritty, hard-nosed style of play that his team will play.
“The toughness of the team and defense is where success comes from. The ultimate example of Borah defensive toughness comes from Alesia Jones who averages more than two charges taken per game,” added Willer.
Along with Jones and Kylee Geis in the backcourt, the Lions will have a good inside-out presence with the players they also have returning in the front court.
“Maddie Geritz, Alyssa Bolt and Nyalam Thabach will be looking to create and take advantages of size mismatches inside the key, while at the same time stepping out as major threats beyond the arc,” said Willer.
Rounding out the Boise School District teams is Boise, which is led by Peyton McFarland, arguably the most valuable player to an individual team of anyone in the conference.
“I think [McFarland] from Boise is a real difference maker. She is so long that she can really create problems for your team when trying to score in the paint,” said Simpson. “I think this year, with all the really good seniors leaving from last year, that there are going to be a lot of kids who become the new faces of the league.”
After winning 17 games a year ago, including their first nine of the season, the Braves hope to emerge out of the pack from the always tough 5A SIC after the district tournament in February.
Rocky Mountain was fairly young a year ago, but after a year in the fire the youth should continue to take positive steps in the right direction.
For fifth year head coach Emery Roy, having at least a year of experience for senior wings Cami Felder and Hillary Hardman, along with senior post Bri Torres and junior post Alyse Froley should help the Grizzlies to compete.
Just a bit further south in Kuna, sixth year head coach Alex Jensen led the Lady Kavemen to a state tournament berth a year ago and has the cohesiveness in place to try to make that happen again this time around.
“Chemistry is already great, and we have a style that we want to play and are excited to play at our pace,” said Jensen. “We will be better outside shooters than we have ever been since I came to Kuna. We are undersized so we will have to learn to fly around on defense to hide our lack of height.”
Defending state champion Centennial has a tough road to hoe after losing 5A SIC Player of the Year Tori Williams and fellow seniors Ayana Amaechi and Lauren Brocke to graduation. Williams, now playing collegiately at the University of Utah, is as difficult of a player to replace as any in the state.
Expect head coach Candace Thornton to get the most out of the returners and some new faces on the Patriots roster this season, but a return trip to the state tournament may be a year or two down the road.
Meridian, Columbia and Nampa have some young faces that shed optimism that the fortunes of the programs could change in the next couple of years, but in the gauntlet that is the 5A SIC, there could be some bumps in the road this season.
The Warriors are a young team, with nine new faces to varsity this year looking to make an impact.
“This is one of the most competitive groups I’ve ever coached. What we might lack in size, skill, or experience they make up for in heart and competitive spirit. I expect this group to grow tremendously as the season goes on,” said Creech.
Expect Meridian to try to get out and run as well.
“Organized chaos is how I would describe our style of play. We want to get after teams defensively and cause havoc and then push the tempo offensively and not let teams get comfortable. It will be a constant battle for 32 minutes on both sides of the floor,” added Creech.
For Nampa and Columbia, the theme is also youth.
“I'm excited to see this young group come together,” said Nampa head coach Nichole Williamson. “We have kept numbers small, therefore everyone gets lots of playing time and reps in practice to increase progress faster.”
One of those young players is Hanna Seabaugh, who Williamson expects to become a big player for the Lady Bulldogs.
Columbia lost four senior starters from last year, so it will be a lot of fresh faces on the floor for the Wildcats this season.
“This young team is more aggressive and has a lot of speed,” said head coach Laurie Kiester. “We have always struggled at the 5A level against larger teams that trap. We have typically been small. We have some bigger guards this year and Karen Vega is more experienced inside now.”
Conference-wide, the key will be which teams can best replace some of the key talent that exited from a year ago.
“So much talent from around the conference graduated. It should be very interesting to see who steps up as a player and which teams have more success because of it,” said Telleria.
Seeding into the conference tournament will be crucial.
After making the state tournament last year thanks to a run in the conference tourney, Kuna knows that better than anyone.
“Last year our seeding played a huge part in our run to state, so every league game is important,” said Jensen.
All things considered, the beginning of the conference schedule should make for a much clearer picture of where all the teams stand, with so many looking to be able to make runs in the new year.
“The team that gains the confidence early is going to be the team that wins the league. There are probably four or five teams that can win the league, but if you can get a big win early in the season and build on that success, you can really make a run,” said Simpson.