White Pine Conference Preview
6. Clearwater Valley
Written by: Seiji Wood
After coming one game short of the ultimate prize of a state title last year, Potlatch enters the 2019-20 season on top of the preseason coaches poll. With a team that’s returning six players from the previous year with three-to-four years of varsity experience, Potlatch looks to have a head start over most of the conference.
“It’s a new season,” said Head Coach Ryan Ball. “But we are expecting to be very competitive with the number of players that we have returning and the successes that we had last season.”
Potlatch lost center Dacota Hadaller but returns two players that earned honors last year. Brayden Hadaller earned first-team all-league and state and Connor Akins earned second-team all-league.
With those two leading the charge, and other complementing players around them, Potlatch expects to perform well on the court.
“We have been a very good defensive team the last couple of years so we will continue to build off of that foundation,” Ball said. “We have some players that are very athletic in the open court so we need to take advantage of their skills and try to get easy baskets in our transition game.”
To what may be a surprise to some in the conference, Troy lands the second spot in the coaches poll. The Trojans finished only 9-15 last year but return seven players from last season. Head Coach Kelly Carlstrom will look to lean heavily on his seniors.
“This year’s team is one year older with more experience,” Carlstrom said. “Our core group gained some valuable experience last year playing deep into the district tournament. We also played some basketball this summer, which should be helpful.”
Lapwai has been historically successful in the conference. Its most recent title came in 2018 and the team wasn’t too far from another state title in 2019. This year, Lapwai will enter the season with first-year Head Coach Zach Eastman.
Despite it being his inaugural season, he’ll have help on his side with one of the best players in the conference, Titus Yearout. Eastman, Yearout and the rest of the team will look to continue the consistent success of Lapwai.
Last year’s state champion, Prairie, finds itself fourth in the coaches poll after losing a majority of the players from last season’s state championship team. It would be silly to count out Prairie as a contender, especially with key player Cole Schlader returning.
Kamiah stands at fifth in the conference but looks to improve from last year’s not-so-satisfying 5-15 record. One bright side for the team for the 2019-20 season is that they return every player from last season.
“We return an entire team from last season. We will have speed and at all positions as well as a deeper bench,” said Head Coach Aaron Skinner. “Jace Sams returns as our leading scorer, Sam Brisbois and Titus Oatman will also fill out an experienced backcourt.”
Clearwater Valley and Genesee end towards the bottom of the conference but both teams have a player to look out for in Evan Jackson for Clearwater and Dawson Durham for Genesee.
“I think the majority of teams in this league will be improved compared to last season,” Ball said. “I think it is going to be a real competitive league from top to bottom.”