1AD2 Long Pin Conference
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Salmon River
4. Horseshoe Bend
5. Garden Valley
7. Meadows Valley
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chevelle Shepherd, Senior, Salmon River
Lotus Harper, Sophomore, Salmon River
Emily Diaz, Junior, Salmon River
Grace Ertel, Senior, Tri-Valley
Ashlyn Gerlock, Senior, Tri-Valley
Emma Hollon, Sophomore, Tri-Valley
Chelsie Testa, Senior, Council
Brittany Schon, Senior, Council
Sage Way, Senior, Cascade
The Long Pin appears to be shaping up as three-horse race for the top spot this season, with Salmon River, Tri-Valley and Council all looking to be tough.
For the Savages, the hope is that Chevelle Shepherd will be cleared to play again following an ACL tear in January of last season. Shepherd was voted as the conference MVP despite missing the last few weeks of the year and should be expected to put up big numbers again if she can get doctor clearance.
In addition to Shepherd, Lotus Harper and Emily Diaz are also back after taking home All-Conference honors a year ago.
“Coming off a state volleyball second place finish, the girls are excited and have probably the best chemistry of any team I’ve coached at Salmon River. The returners had to figure out how to play without Chevelle last year and they did very well just losing the state play-in in the final seconds to Deary,” said head coach Paula Tucker.
Plenty of players had a good opportunity to step into larger roles when Shepherd was not on the floor.
“Lotus Harper stepped up and took a huge load on her shoulders with the point guard position. With her leadership, returners Emily [Diaz], Jordyn [Pottenger] and Sophie [Branstetter] went out and surprised some teams that thought they would fold without Chevelle. They had to take on new roles and new positions and it made them a better team going forward. I think it was a great confidence booster.”
After making a state tournament trip last year and returning much of the same roster this season, Tri-Valley will be a major contender.
Grace Ertel, Ashlyn Gerlock and Emma Hollon are some of the standouts to watch for the Titans as they take on the rest of the Long Pin.
Challenging Salmon River and Tri-Valley will be Council, which welcomes new head coach Dan Shumway to the sideline.
The inside-out combination of senior post Brittany Schon and senior guard Chelsie Testa is hard to handle for opponents of the Lumberjacks.
For Shumway, there is a lot to like.
“Chelsie is a very talented player. Handles the ball well and shoots well. A great all-around player. Brittany is tough inside and a good rebounder. Shyann [Getusky] is all hustle and very physical. Dani [Paradis] is a very good shooter and solid on defense. Alli [Matthews] is hard-working and a two-way threat. Sydney [Williams] is a good shooter with a quick release. Jordan [Paradis] is an aggressive defender. Kylie [Shumway] is a threat inside and outside. Amber [Glenn] is a very capable scorer and Sophie [Daniels] is a very unselfish player who can fill a variety of roles. We really expect all ten players to all play key roles on this team,” stated the new coach.
The early season should tell a lot about how team will adapt to a new voice on the sideline.
“We will see in the first few weeks what our style is. We would like to get out and run more this season. We need to trust each other and be unselfish to be successful this year and increase our intensity on defense,” added Shumway.
With some of the upperclassmen in place, he likes the ability his team has to do just that.
“I’m most excited about our experience. We are senior-heavy and have some very talented individual players on this team. We are very excited to see what kind of chemistry develops as the season goes.”
While Council, Tri-Valley and Salmon River are teams with high expectations entering the new year, Horseshoe Bend and Garden Valley have aspirations to continue in the right direction as well.
For the Mustangs, the athletes are in place to show improvement.
“They have been primarily a volleyball school, but if they get some of those volleyball athletes committed they could be tough,” said Tucker.
Cascade brings back senior playmaker Sage Way and the Ramblers are hoping to increase the win total after just three victories a season ago.
Meadows Valley has struggled as well, having not won a game according to our records since 2012.