Players to Watch:
Meghan Montgomery, Buhl
Josalyn Bailey, Filer
Alli Bishop, Filer
Izzie Stockham, Gooding
Fallon Millican, Gooding
Mekell Wright, Kimberly
Kelsy Stanger, Kimberly
Written by: Katie Knight
Anyone involved with sports understands how momentum helps teams succeed and the Kimberly Bulldogs are hoping to use their momentum from the 3A State Volleyball Championship to fuel their basketball season. Returning seniors, Kelsy Stanger and Mekell Wright will lead a team focused on “hard nosed defense,” says first year head coach, Scott Plew. Both Stanger and Wright were All Conferences selections in the ‘21-‘22 season and make a dynamic duo for the Bulldogs.
Coach Plew says some keys to his team’s success will be controlling the tempo and getting the ball into his posts, Wright and Macy Dille. Plew is taking over a program that went 9-10 last season, but who are voted to finish first in the preseason conference poll.
The Buhl Indians are another program that is starting this basketball season with a new head coach at the helm. Jessica Montgomery is no stranger to coaching basketball though, as she runs the local Tews Gym, hosting shooting and ball handling camps throughout the year for athletes all over the Magic Valley. Coach Montgomery has a squad led by Meghan Montgomery and Aspen Eckert; both earning All-Conference honors in ‘21-‘22.
To be successful, coach Montgomery wants her team to “push the ball and get up and down the floor.” The Indians have multiple scoring threats and “10 solid players, who are selfless and put the team before themselves,” says Montgomery. The defense from Buhl will be high pressure with their coach asking them to “never back down.”
The Wildcats of Filer were the Sawtooth Central Conference Champions in the ‘21-‘22 season and are looking to repeat that success this season. Coach Clayton Nebeker was the Coach of the Year for the conference and is going to rely on 1st team All-Conference pick, Josalyn Bailey. Bailey is a scoring threat and hopes to lead the Wildcats back to the state tournament. Filer graduated Conference Player of the Year, Alexis Monson and 2nd team All-Conference, McKynlee Jacobs.
Rounding out the Sawtooth Central Conference are the Gooding Senators. Coach Derrick Lyons’ team is young but has experience. Returning junior Izzie Stockham and sophomore Fallon Millican both 2nd team All-Conference selections, will be leaders for Lyons’ squad. Millican is a versatile player and can fill any position. Joining Millican and Stockham will be junior Audrey Schilder, who has big shoes to fill and an increased roll with to Alx Roe graduating last season.
The Senators will need to “excel in transition, execute in the paint and move the ball,” according to Coach Lyons. On the defensive side Coach Lyons says, Gooding “should be long, able to rebound the ball and play solid defense.” Strong on ball pressure will allow the Senators to “execute the style of play they like,” says Lyons. Gooding finished the ‘21-‘22 season 11-13 and made it to the state play-in game.