PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nelson Lomeli, Homedale
Daniel Uranga, Homedale
Jaxon Dines, Homedale
Kyle Powers, Parma
Joe Henggler, Fruitland
Josh Henggler, Fruitland
Pri Weatherall, Fruitland
Ande Jensen, Weiser
Angel Magana, Weiser
3A Snake River Valley Conference Preview
Written by Brandon Hill
The 3A Snake River Valley Conference came just 10 points away from dominating both ends of the state tournament bracket, with Parma coming out on top on the consolation side, and Fruitland falling to eventual champion Sugar-Salem.
This year, the Grizzlies expect to return to their dominating ways, earning an undisputed first-place spot in the preseason coaches poll. With two head coaches at the helm, Mak Van Weerdhuizen and Willie Lake, Fruitland welcomes five seniors to 2019-2020.
But despite enough seniors to comprise a starting lineup, the two Fruitland coaches said their biggest concern heading into this season is an overall lack of varsity experience among their starters and bench players.
“We graduated eight ultra-committed kids that had a tremendous amount of success during their careers,” they said. “We do bring back three seniors that have been a part of those successes to go along with a group of kids that have been successful at the sub-varsity level.”
Van Weerdhuizen and Lake called up five newcomers to varsity from the JV level, including junior forward Hyrum Lindsey and sophomore Nolan Bower. Both coaches said they will look to focus on disciplined play and strong defense as they develop a much younger team.
“I believe the one quality that last years group will share with our current group is simply their love to play the game,” they said. “They will come to each practice with a willingness and mindset to get better.”
Coming off a 14-10 year and a missed opportunity to reach the state tournament, Weiser will look to get back into the championship conversation behind veteran head coach Brad Adolfson.
Senior guard Ane Jensen will be the centerpiece of the Wolverines’ season. Named an honorable mention all-conference player along with Angel Magana, the Weiser seniors look capable of sneaking their way past favorited Fruitland.
“I am excited to coach this group as we have a lot of returners that will be able to grow from last season and this summer,” Adolfson said. “Our journey will largely be determined by how well we come together as a team, and celebrate each other’s successes.”
Much like the Grizzlies, the Wolverines will also make defense a priority this season, coupled with increased tempo on the offensive end with plenty of ball movement.
Led by first-year head coach Cam Long, the Homedale Trojans finished third behind Weiser in this year’s preseason coaches poll after finishing 7-17 last year. The Trojans welcome a handful of all-around stellar athletes, such as Homedale football quarterback Daniel Uranga and Nelson Lomeli.
Lomeli returns to the team after earning a first-team all-conference honor a year ago and will look to lead the Homedale locker room with five fellow seniors behind him.
“I got to see them play this summer and have a baseline of where we will start,” Long said. “It will take some time to fully implement what I want them to do and how I want them to do it, but by the end of the season, they will be the best version of themselves.”
Long arrives at the Trojan program with quite the resume after spending 11 years with the Nampa Bulldogs’ girls team.
Looking to climb their way through the ranks, Payette and Parma have yet to earn the respect of the other powerhouses in the SRV, but both Fruitland coaches said the Panthers could surprise some people down the stretch, thanks to the coaching talents of Scot Garrick.
Garrick enters his fifth year with Parma, coming off a 24-5 record and a state consolation title in 2018-2019. But losing five starters off last year’s team plummeted the Panthers’ standing in the conference, and Garrick will look to rebuild with three seniors at his disposal in Kyle Power, Stetson Beus and Joe Shaw.