Highland High School
Conference: 5A District 5-6 Conference
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Highland High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Tony Green
Record Last Year: 13-11
State Titles: 1985, 1986, 1987
Lexi Rowe, G, 12
Makenna Baker, G, 11
Allie Thayne, F, 12
Key Players lost from last year:
Written by: Matt Harris
5A District 5-6 Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hannah Wilson, Madison
Makenna Baker, Highland
Allie Thayne, Highland
Lexi Rowe, Highland
Sadie Lott, Bonneville
Makayla Sorenson, Bonneville
Maycee Stenquist, Hillcrest
Emma Shippen, Rigby
Jet Taylor, Rigby
The departure of a few familiar faces on the court and on the sidelines (along with the return of several standouts) takes place this season in the 5A District 5-6 Conference.
Hillcrest’s Cody Jackson has stepped down in order to fill the role of athletic director at the soon-to-open Thunder Ridge High School. In his place now is former assistant Alan Sargent, who is handed the reigns of a team that has reached the state tournament in recent seasons despite missing out last year while finishing fifth in the conference.
The Knights will be looking to junior Maycee Stenquist to lead the way for the red and black this season. Stenquist, a consistent contributor and leader since she was a freshman, will take on an increased load offensively this year along with Annika Baldwin. These two will look to replace and replicate the contributions of the now-graduated starters Addy Kirkham, Kylie Wood, and Madelyn Biddulph.
Hillcrest had expected to have senior Ally Adamson in the fold as well, but injuries will prevent her from continuing play this season.
“Ally had a great first game against Skyline, but blew out her Achilles at the end of the game and is now out for the season,” said Sargent, who also noted that a couple of his assistant coaches have been out as well, one with back surgery while the other was getting married.
While their early season seems to be in chaos, Sargent said his team is looking at the long-term success while trying to achieve short-term goals.
“It’s going to take us a little while to get going as a team to where we can gel and trust one another in our abilities,” he said, “but I do believe we will be a team that consistently gets better and will always work hard. In turn, this will give us more success towards the end of the season.”
Their cross-town rivals, Bonneville, will try to learn from their failures near the end of last season. The Bees were the top seed heading into districts, but fell in the championship game and then the second place game to miss state. Head Coach Amy Wood’s squad will also have to replace the playmaking abilities of Schaleigh Davenport, along with the shooting of Sami Trane and inside toughness of Cadee Berrett.
However, the green and yellow return the services of senior post Courtney McDonald, along with the shooting of guards Kalli Harris and Sadie Lott. Several coaches in the conference said that Lott is very much a player to watch for Bonneville this season and should be a team leader.
Several coaches in the conference pointed to Bonneville being a team that could surprise many this season.
“They are young and quick and play very well together,” said Madison head coach Traci Peterson. Rigby’s Troy Shippen added that Bonneville is a “very talented” team.
The team that knocked Bonneville out of districts last year, Highland, is the preseason conference favorite and brings back several starters and key players who will look to get Highland back to the state tournament once again. The Rams, led by Head Coach Tony Green, will look to standout guards Makenna Baker and Lexi Rowe along with senior forward Allie Thayne to lead the way. The conference’s coaches said that those three are the players to watch on Highland.
Baker, who has played a major role for the Rams since she was a freshman, will be looked upon to help replace the offensive productivity of Kia Pokibro, who graduated. Highland will also have to replace the services of Lakota Robinson-Sanada and Ryann Obray. The program has gone two-and-out at state the last four seasons and have not won a state trophy since 2013, when they finished third.
In the Upper Valley, a familiar face takes over the Rigby Trojans girls basketball program. Troy Shippen, a former girls and boys varsity assistant at Rigby, will now take the reins of Rigby and look to navigate their way through their second season in the 5A classification.
The Trojans will have to do this without the help of posts Kate Bell and Randee Smith, along with guard Olivia Shippen, who all graduated and now play college basketball. Wing Halle Livingston also departed the program and transferred to a school in Utah.
That leaves Rigby to fill some big voids in their lineup. Rigby will lean on senior Jet Taylor, who plays four different positions according to Shippen, to pick up the scoring and rebounding load, while junior point guard Emma Shippen will look to direct the team on the floor. Look for freshman wing Tylie Jones to have a big impact on the Trojans this season.
Shippen expects much from his team this season despite the loss of those who have moved on.
“We want play at a fast pace and balanced, but we have to stop others from scoring so much on us,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to seeing his team improve each week.
That brings us to the defending conference champions, the Madison Bobcats, who lost a number of key players themselves but hope to use the regular season to prepare themselves for districts.
“I believe we are going to be in the mix at the end,” said head coach Traci Peterson, “but it will be the team who is playing the best defense at the end [that will win the conference]”.
The Bobcats lose a number of senior starters, including wing Madi Day and guards Ryan Tyler, Jazz Delgado, and Leah Dougherty. However, Madison returns Conference Player of the Year Hannah Wilson to the fold who, along with guard Savanah Dick, will look to lead the red, gray, and white to another district title.
“We are a young team and it will be interesting to see who emerges for us,” said Peterson. “This is a group of kids that needs time to gel and see what their make up will be.”
Peterson expects Wilson to be the leader in word and action this season.
“Hannah is our leader and is a hard working kid who our other players like. Young kids like Bethany Dow along with Savanah will need to step up and give us quality minutes.”
While the preseason poll has Highland and Bonneville coming out on top, a couple of coaches noted how they felt the conference was up for grabs.
“It’s wide open this year,” said Troy Shippen.