1AD1 White Pine League
By: Will Hoenike
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
7. Clearwater Valley
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jordyn Higgins, Prairie
India Peery, Prairie
Glory Sobotta, Lapwai
Raquel Domebo, Lapwai
Kelani Smith, Lapwai
Jordyne Fredrickson, Troy
Blazie Gilder, Troy
Kiana Hoskins-Oakley, Troy
Emerson Parkins, Genesee
Regan Zenner, Genesee
Kelsey Jenson, Genesee
Shy Lynas, Potlatch
Alyssa Hamburg, Potlatch
Mikaela Herrick, Clearwater Valley
Kaitlyn Mangun, Clearwater Valley
Coming in to the 2018-19 regular season, there are some new faces in new places but people around the White Pine League seem to agree: the path to the 1A Division 1 State Tournament runs through Lapwai and Prairie.
That’s not to say the league doesn’t have several quality teams. However, the two teams that represented the league at last spring’s State Tournament (and the year before, when the two met for the state title), look like strong candidates to make a return visit to the Treasure Valley in February. In fact, Lapwai and Prairie have both represented the White Pine at State each season since 2011. Lapwai’s streak extends further back than that, which is a big part of why people around Idaho have simply come to expect to see the Wildcats at the State Tournament.
“Lapwai, no surprise,” Prairie head coach Lori Mader said. “(They are) always good at basketball.”
Here’s the thing about Lapwai: the Wildcats only graduated two seniors off of last season’s 17-win team.
“We are still young, but more seasoned,” Lapwai head coach Eric Spencer said of his team. “And also, some good freshmen joining the team and a returning community member transfer player.”
Sophomore Glory Sobotta, who earned All-White Pine honors last season, returns for Lapwai, in addition to Raquel Domebo, Kelani Smith and several other players who contributed for the Wildcats last season.
“I am excited about this year’s team and feel, by the middle of the season, we will be better than what we were last year if we stay healthy and keep working hard,” Spencer said. “I like our speed and desire to play the game. Rebounding will be key for us this year.”
Mader’s Pirates were hit a little harder by graduation but also return a pair of second-team All-League performers in Jordyn Higgins and India Peery, which gives Prairie a good base to build from.
“We will be little but I think fast and physical,” Mader said of her squad. “We hope to be able to play up-tempo and with high energy.”
Joining Lapwai and Prairie in the hunt for a state tourney berth are Genesee and Troy. The Bulldogs lost first-team All-White Pine players Courtney Burt and Anna Druffel, but first-year head coach Greg Hardie still has Emerson Parkins, Regan Zenner and Kelsey Jenson back on the roster. And Troy returns second-team All-League performer Jordyne Fredrickson along with senior guards Blazie Gilder, Ashley Webler and Kiana Hoskins-Oakley.
“We will be small but quick and will try to use that to our advantage,” Troy head coach Aaron Dail said. “We will need to take advantage of mistakes and value the basketball, keeping the opponent to one shot per possession.”
Potlatch, Kamiah and Clearwater Valley will battle for position within the White Pine League as well. All three return some key pieces but all three have key roles to fill as the season gets underway.
“We must really concentrate on box-out and rebounding,” Clearwater Valley head coach Roger Whalen observed. “We do, however, exhibit no fear of working hard, so I expect us to be much different in January.”
The Rams return guards Mikaela Herrick and Kaitlyn Mangun. Meanwhile, Potlatch brings back Shy Lynas and Alyssa Hamburg this season.
The White Pine gets two automatic berths at the 1A Division 1 State Tournament. A third team can earn its way in by winning a play-in game against the no. 3 team out of District 3’s Western Idaho Conference.