4A Southern Idaho Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
4. Bishop Kelly
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Zoey Moore, Middleton
Jade Martinez, Caldwell
Jazzy Jenkins, Emmett
Piper Curry, Nampa
Jasmyne Boles, Vallivue
Miaja Mills, Kuna
Gracee Gustin, Kuna
Gemma Lavergne, Emmett
Payton Hymas, Middleton
Anna Schmautz, Bishop Kelly
Written by: Sven Alskog
Middleton was selected as the preseason pick by the coaches to win the 4A SIC title this season, with a broad range of opinions following the Vikings in regards to how the standings will shape up.
New head coach Jacob Doty takes over a Middleton program that went 24-3 a year ago and will benefit from the return of First Team All-SIC talent Zoey Moore and sophomore point guard Payton Hymas. Senior guard Ashley Campbell also made an impact last season and should step into an even larger role this time around.
“We like to push the ball and get to the basket,” Doty said. “Defensively, we are an aggressive man-to-man team. To be as successful as we want to be, we need to improve our shooting and stay mentally engaged at all times.”
He likes the cohesiveness that is coming together with the group.
“I am most excited about the program-wide chemistry we have been building and seeing seniors this year step into new leadership roles,” Doty said.
After advancing to the state championship game last year, Caldwell is another team that will battle for positioning towards the top of the SIC.
Second year head coach Ashley Green has to replace key players such as Jalen Callender (now at CSI) and Julia Martinez. Having point guard Jade Martinez and senior center Aaliyah Kennedy back to lead the way should help the Cougars stay a tough matchup on a nightly basis. Kennedy and guard Kat Vallejo will both be out until mid-early December with knee injuries.
“I am excited this season because we have a nice core of returners, but we also have several seasoned seniors who played on the JV team last year,” Green said. “Jade Martinez will be the one I push to increase her role. She led the league in assists last year but she has to step up and become a scorer as well.”
The pace will continue to be quick for the Cougars.
“We are a high energy, fast-paced team on both ends of the floor,” Green added. “We love to run the ball, get out in transition and press hard. We will need to improve our free throw percentage.”
Kuna is a popular pick to be one of the more improved teams in the state after a 14-11 mark last year.
The Kavemen feature a more seasoned group than in recent history, which should help in a big way.
“In returning the majority of our team, including six girls that all started at some point last year, we are starting off so far ahead of where we were previously,” said Kuna Head Coach Dennis Jordan. “We have the ability to go with several different lineups to utilize our strengths in many different styles of play.”
All-SIC selections Miaja Mills and Gracee Gustin are a solid inside-out combination that have as much ability as any in the conference.
“Defense is always our first priority,” Jordan said. “We are going to pressure you into not being able to run what you want offensively and attempt to dictate the pace of play. Offensively we are much more comfortable in year two of our system that we are going to be able to be more creative in attacking mismatches. We look inside-out and have a lineup full of girls who can and will hit the 3-pointer.”
Delaney Walker, Lexy Haws, Darbi Avery and Cadence Mann are some of the guards that are expected to stretch the defense, with Miannah Davies able to play on the outside or the inside.
“We are extremely similar personnel-wise, but with a year of varsity experience and maturity under our belt,” Jordan added. “Same kind of team, just hopefully more polished skill-wise. Our roster will be filled out with a lot of young talent that will learn from our experienced core group.”
While Kuna returns a strong core, Bishop Kelly has the task of replacing some key components with a largely new look.
“I am most excited about the newness of this year’s team,” said Bishop Kelly head coach Derek McCormick. “We have a completely new group with only two seniors, therefore it will be exciting to see how we mesh together as the season progresses.”
Guards Anna Schmautz and Ali Chatterton are two of the pieces that are expected to make big impacts for the Knights.
“Our strength should be on the defensive end, with some good athletes at the guard position to apply pressure,” McCormick said. “We will have to find a way to be more consistent on the offensive end with most of our points graduating from last year’s team.”
Thanks in part to All-SIC honorees Jazzy Jenkins and Gemma Lavergne, Emmett is a team that was picked by multiple coaches to be the most improved in the conference.
Senior forward Holly Goslin and newcomer Hailey Jewkes are some other players to watch for the Huskies.
“They are well-coached and their ability to stretch the floor and score the basketball is going to be advantageous for them this season,” said Vallivue Head Coach Jordan Ax.
Entering his second season at Emmett, Stu Peterson hopes to amp up the pace even more this year.
“We will be an up-tempo, fast-paced team that pushes the ball from end-to-end well,” Peterson said. “We need to make up for our lack of height on the inside with effort and physicality.”
Having had multiple players gain plentiful experience last year should help.
“After getting a year under our belt, I am excited to bring out a new fast, hard-playing, and exciting team,” Peterson added. “We are more versatile and we have some great outside shooters with some new inside presence.”
Nampa has increased expectations as well.
“Nampa was young last season and they return a lot of that youth,” McCormick said. “I think they will be a surprise team in our conference for sure.”
Continuity on the roster is a major reason for optimism.
“Nampa will surprise some people,” Jordan said. “They return their entire team and have some extremely talented young players. They came close to knocking off some teams last year and are likely to get someone this coming year.”
Sophomore guard Piper Curry and senior guard Hanna Seabaugh are a strong outside duo for the Bulldogs, with eight additional returners around them.
“I’m really excited to bring back 10 lettermen and see the hard work the kids have put in the past nine months pay off,” said Nampa Head Coach Jack Dooley. “Last season we went through a lot of firsts together. The group had never been to the district tournament or won double-digit games in a season. We played in a ton of tight ball games last season too. All of those factors are things we can build on in order to have a successful campaign.”
Youth is the name of the game at Vallivue, where First Team All-SIC point guard Jasmyne Boles will be joined by impact newcomers Jaedyn Rhoton, Daisha Kiester and Alondra Osuna.
“We are most excited to combine our youth with our current senior class,” Ax said. “There will be significant visible growth throughout the 2019-20 season. Jaedyn Rhoton has great speed and a high basketball IQ to lead our team. Our players have a hunger for the game and accept the concepts we are challenging them to assimilate to during our first year together. Our culture and expectation to achieve lofty program goals is very high right now.”
Going fast will be a staple for the Falcons.
“We are a team comprised of great speed and a profound understanding of proper angles,” Ax added. “Space and pace are critical elements to our day-to-day operations. We will play fast and establish an exciting brand of basketball.”
Columbia has taken the interim tag off Neal Robertson, who now enters his first full official season leading the Wildcats after winning two games a year ago.
Ridgevue welcomes in new Head Coach Dean Metzger after going 2-20 last season under Amos Lee.
The Warhawks have a large contingent of returners, including Jasmin Villa, Evony Castro and Sarah Means to lead the way.
“We are a growing program and a number of the returning players have been playing together over the last couple of years,” Metzger said. “We are excited to see them continue to grow and mesh together as a team.”