4A Inland Empire League
Written by: Sven Alskog
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Katy Ryan, Lakeland
Mel Loutzenhiser, Lakeland
Peyton Claus, Moscow
Megan Watson, Moscow
Peyton Watson, Moscow
Dawson Driggs, Sandpoint
Hattie Larson Sandpoint
Lakeland snapped Sandpoint’s streak of four consecutive years at state, earning its first trip to the postseason since 2009 last season.
The expectation is Lakeland can get right back to the big stage yet again, with Katy Ryan and Mel Loutzenhiser highlighting the pieces in place.
“Lakeland is the defending league and district champion, but I think they may surprise people with the jump they take from last season,” said Sandpoint Head Coach Will Love. “Steve Seymour is a heck of coach, and with his team’s returning talent and athleticism, they could knock off some 5A teams this season. Katy Ryan also has the potential to be an All-State player.”
With just three teams in the league, every coach knows they are gunning for the Hawks.
“Katy Ryan will always be someone we are watching,” said Moscow Head Coach Karlee Wilson. “She impacts the game wherever she is on the floor and runs very well for her size. We need to be able to limit her touches when she is in and hit perimeter shots.”
Beyond Lakeland, it figures to be a battle between the Bulldogs and Bears to see who can give the Hawks the best fight come district tournament time.
Moscow graduated a handful of seniors and is youthful as a result, with plenty of talent still on-hand.
“We have a little bit more height, but are a very young team compared to last year with five seniors,” Wilson said. “We want to get up and down the floor quick and apply pressure defense as much as we can. To be successful this year, we need to be able to score better around the rim.”
The senior combination of All-League post Peyton Claus and point guard Megan Watson teams with sophomore post Peyton Watson as team leaders.
“I’m most excited to watch our seniors step up and take on a leadership role on and off the court,” Wilson said.
For Sandpoint, much more experience is on the roster than what exists at Moscow, something which should help the Bulldogs.
“I’m excited about the experience we have, with five seniors and three juniors returning this season,” Love said. “Most of our returners played at the varsity level in a fall sport, so they have lots of experience competing at a high level. We also have some younger players that are pretty good basketball players and I believe we will have some good depth at both the varsity and JV levels.”
Senior guard Dawson Driggs and junior forward Hattie Larson were both All-IEL selections a year ago and should be ready to make even larger impacts this season.
“The biggest factor is experience,” Love said. “We had a solid summer season and I know our seniors are eager to compete for the league and regional titles and a trip to state. We are not very tall, so we will be perimeter-oriented again this year. We have the ability to play great defense, but we always need to focus on finishing possessions both on offense and defense to be successful.”
Bella Phillips is expected to provide solid interior scoring and rebounding for Sandpoint.