Players to Watch:
Avery Howell, Boise
Avery Patricco, Boise
Alison Turcke, Boise
Hannah Price, Capital
Netta Tia, Centennial
Paige Cofer, Eagle
Molly Johnson, Eagle
Brylin Field, Kuna
Presley Barger, Meridian
Zoey Blackwell, Middleton
Demi Thompson, Mountain View
Josie Davis, Owhyee
Syd Rodriguez, Owyhee
CeCe Legaspi, Rocky Mountain
Brielle Magnuson, Rocky Mountain
Aly Cox, Timberline
Lauren McCall, Timberline
Written by: Lucas Gebhart
Last season was the fourth straight year Idaho’s 5A champion has come from the Southern Idaho Conference (SIC) as Timberline outlasted Boise in a defensive battle, winning its first state championship in nearly two decades.
It was the sixth time in the last nine years that both schools playing in the state championship came from the SIC and the ninth straight year that at least one of the schools playing for the state championship came from this league.
There are no ifs ands or buts about it – the 5A Southern Idaho Conference is not only the deepest conference in Idaho, it is also the toughest.
Last year, District III received 4.5 bids to the state tournament. The league sent four as Owyhee fell short to Post Falls in the state play-in game. Timberline and Boise went on to play for a state title while Rocky Mountain and Borah, went two-and-out.
Now, the league is expanding by one as Skyview moves down to 4A while Middleton and Nampa move up to 5A. Middleton has been one of Idaho’s best 4A teams over the last decade and has won at least a share of the 4A SIC regular season title the last six seasons.
Still, most of the attention this year will be on Timberline and Boise, although many expect Owyhee to also be in the mix as Owyhee returns nearly its entire varsity roster. Others say Eagle and Rocky Mountain could contend for a state tournament berth as well.
“Eagle and Rocky are both good teams,” said Capital head coach Matthew Creech. “Both teams play hard, they have skill at all positions and have talented and experienced coaches.”
Record Last Season: 21-4
Season Result: State Runner-up
Head Coach: Kim Brydges
Boise was that close last year – and many expect them to be right in the thick of it again this season as the league’s coaches picked the Brave, not Timberline, the defending 5A champions, to win the league this season.
Boise lost just four games last year and capped off their 21-win season with a trip to the state title game, but fell one point short, losing to Timberline just eight days after beating the Wolves in the district championship game.
Although Boise does lose some key pieces from last year’s team, many still think the Brave have enough coming back to make another run at a state title. Boise returns both Avery Patricco and junior Avery Howell, who was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
But Boise did lose three players who are now on college basketball rosters in Ella Nelson, (Lewis-Clark State College) Ava Oakland (Carroll College) and 6-foot-5 forward Ashley Banks (Southern Utah).
Losing Banks may have the biggest impact and head coach Kim Brydges says her defense could look a lot different as a result.
“This is the first year, in quite a few years, that we haven’t had a big rim protector, so we will need to really rely on our proper positioning, speed, and versatility,” Brydges said. “We have the depth to be a very good pressing team and look forward to expanding our defense in this way… I foresee us being able to rotate many more players into the game to keep fresh legs on the top of our press.”
Brydges also says this year’s team will allow her to expand the offense a bit more as many of the returning players already have a high comfort level with the offense.
“I hope to add in many more ‘quick hitters’ than last year,” she explained. “We have many players who can contribute in terms of scoring, so I’m excited to incorporate more plays to highlight individual strengths.”
Record Last Season: 25-2
Season Result: State Champions
Head Coach: Andy Jones
Last year’s state championship was Timberline’s first since 2003 and the Wolves enter the new campaign with their eyes set on a repeat despite losing two of their three best players.
The loses include Sophie Glancey, the conference’s player of the year and Timberline’s scoring and rebounding leader, along with all-conference selection Audrey Taylor. Taylor finished second in scoring and assists.
“After leaning heavily on Glancey, we will be looking for our identity a little,” head coach Andy Jones said. “We expect Aly Cox to be a major contributor inside, and our trio of senior returners to be a factor shooting, penetration, and in transition.”
The Wolves do get back Lauren McCall, who is expected to be one of the SIC’s best players this year after capping off her junior year with a second-team all-conference selection. Other coaches around the league say Emma Heninger could be a problem as well while Jones says junior Grace Mertes and even freshman Emmie Swillie could be play critical roles.
“It will be exciting to see players step into larger roles,” Jones said. “Glancey and Taylor leave big shoes to fill. McCall, Davis, and Huegerich will all be called on to score more. Cox will be crucial on both ends.”
Record Last Season: 14-13
Season Result: Lost in state play-in game
Head Coach: Jordan Ax
Owyhee is entering its second season with its sights set on a state tournament bid. The Storm finished one game over .500 last season and were one game away from the state tournament in their inaugural season but lost to Post Falls in the state play-in game.
Still, being that close in year one, with this young of a team means the ceiling is very high.
Owyhee has 12 players on its varsity roster last season. 10 of those players are coming back this season, including Josie Davis, who led the league in total steals. Head coach Jordan Ax also believes Halle Hanchett and Sydnie Rodriguez will be “solid lock down defenders” as well.
“We take pride in our full court speed and ability to read passing lanes,” Ax said. “We have multiple attacking defenses to put our players in position to attack from various spots on the floor.”
Offensively, expect the Storm to run an up-temp style.
“Our pace and space is our highest priority on the offensive end,” Ax said. “We are a confident shooting team with selfless playmakers. Our players are primed to attack in transition and play as a team. Make the right play and everybody eats.”
Record Last Season: 12-13
Season Result: Missed State
Head Coach: Jeremy Munroe
Eagle is a school some think could be a dark horse this season.
The Mustangs were picked to finish fourth by the league’s coaches after missing out on the state tournament a year ago, but some around the league say Eagle could be dangerous this year.
“Eagle graduated a lot of talent,” said Owyhee head coach Jordan Ax. “But Eagle has the players to be extremely physical on the defensive end of the floor this season.”
Eagle coach Jeremy Munroe is the SIC’s raining Coach of the Year and now enters his second season at the helm. Munroe won 12 games in his first year at Eagle and will get one of the league’s best players back in junior Paige Cofer.
The junior was a second-team all-conference pick as a sophomore and is currently committed to play at Utah Tech.
“We think we are able to play fast and physical,” he said. “The girls have the ability to be a threat from any position on the court. We have flexibility in matchups, and we hope to utilize that throughout the season.”
Despite having Cofer for another two years, the Eagle lineup does have some holes to fill. The Mustangs lost some key players to graduation in Sydney Beck, Aspen Carter and Mikaila Bowlden. Munroe says filling in those vacant roles will be the team’s x-factor.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN GRIZZLES
Record Last Season: 11-15
Season Result: Two-and-Out at State
Head Coach: BJ Humphreys
Like Eagle, Rocky is another school that many of the league’s coaches are pointing to as a team that could breakout this season.
Rocky is returning four starters and gets arguably its best player back from the injury report in Cece Legaspi along with Brielle Magnuson, who led the team in scoring last season.
Now add in the fact that the Grizz still snuck into the state tournament a year ago, snagging the 8th and final seed after beating Eagle in the district tournament.
“I am excited to see our team grow together,” head coach BJ Humphreys said.
In all, Humphreys says he has six players that can score double figures on any given night. The guard-heavy line-up can shoot the three he says and shares the ball well.
“We will be difficult to guard because we will have lots of weapons,” Humphreys says. “We are a very unselfish team that shares the ball well and makes the smart play for team success.”
Defensively, Humphreys says the Grizz will be quick and aggressive, but says in order to win big games, winning the battle on the glass is a must.
“The x factor for our team this season is going to be how we defend and rebound,” Humphreys said. “I know we will score and shoot well.”
MOUNTAIN VIEW MAVERICKS
Record Last Season: 10-12
Season Result: Missed State
Head Coach: LaCale Pringle
After winning back-to-back state championships in 2020 and 2021, Mountain View looked primed to make another run at a state title early last season after winning 7 of their first 8.
But the Mavs struggled down the stretch and missed the state tournament for the first time since 2012 after winning just three of their last 14 games.
Now, Mountain View is undergoing some changes. New head coach LaCale Pringle takes over the program this season for Connie Skogrand and will look to get the Mavs back to the state tournament and back into state title contention.
Pringle’s roster is headlined by sophomore Demi Thompson, an all-conference honorable mention from a year ago.
The Mavs have won four of the last seven 5A titles
Record Last Season: 20-7 (4A)
Season Result: Consolation Champion (4A)
Head Coach: Brand Huter
Middleton enters its first season in the 5A ranks with an impressive resume and will be putting it to the test with a new head coach.
Brad Huter takes over the program as the Vikings make the jump up to Idaho’s highest classification after rolling through the 4A SIC for the last several years.
The Vikings have won at least a share of the regular season district title in each of the last six seasons and bring five 4A state titles with them to the 5A ranks, the latest coming back in the 2016-17 season.
The big question is how will that rich 4A history translate to the 5A game? So far, it seems like the Vikings haven’t missed a beat as Middleton picked up wins against both Eagle and Nampa to open the year. They went 2-4 against current 5A SIC schools a season ago.
Record Last Season: 6-16
Season Result: Missed State
Head Coach: Matthew Creech
It’s a new era at Capital High as head coach Matthew Creech takes over the program for Ron Marthe.
Creech comes to Capital with some SIC coaching experience already under his belt as he led Meridian’s girls’ basketball program from 2016-19.
“Capital (coach) Matt Creech is an outstanding coach,” said Eagle head coach Jeremy Munroe. “They bring back solid players and have a good group of kids coming up.”
Headlining Creech’s new lineup with be senior Hannah Price, an all-conference honorable mention from a year ago. Price is one of five key returning pieces, all of whom are upperclassmen, coming back this season. The list also includes senior post Saioa Sarria, junior forward Paige Edmunds, junior forward and senior guards Khadija Mnongerwa and Kallie Featherstone.
“We have a number of girls who can guard multiple positions which will help us be flexible with our matchups depending on who we are playing,” Creech said.
Record Last Season: 5-17
Season Result: Missed State
Head Coach: Kerry Angelos
Centennial hasn’t been back to the state tournament since winning its last state championship in 2017, but the Patriots are hoping new head coach Kerry Angelos can help them get back to the Idaho Center.
The Patriots only won five games last season and lose all-conference forward Annie Stinar to graduation, but Angelos says the team can still rollout a young, but talented lineup.
Guards Netta Tia, Ellis Tia, Myra Martinez, Kahree Horton are all back this season are expected to play a major role. Horton is the only senior among the bunch while both Ellis Tia and Martinez are sophomores.
“Come watch,” Angelos said, adding that her group is one that could surprise some this season.
Record Last Season: 4-18
Season Result: Missed State
Head Coach: Katie Holmes
Kuna is entering its third season in its latest 5A stint but has yet to eclipse the .500 mark since moving up from 4A and had a rough go of it last year.
The Kavemen finished in last place a year ago and finished the campaign with just four wins, but many around the league are expecting Kuna to be much more competitive this season.
Head coach Katie Holmes is rolling out a guard-heavy line-up which could give Kuna an extra step of quickness, but could leave them exposed on the glass, an area Holmes is hoping to improve on this season.
The lineup is headlined by Brylin Fields who is back for her senior season after picking up an all-conference honorable mention a year ago thanks to her stingy defensive effort.
“Brylin led our team in steals last season,” said head coach Katie Homes. “We will work to disrupt offense and be in great physical condition.”
Also returning to Kuna’s lineup this season is senior guard Harlee Grant and sophomores Sarah Walker and Gabby Halverson. Homes also says junior Makayla Wilson will see significant minutes this season as well as she enters her junior season.
Record Last Season: 9-15
Season Result: Misses State
Head Coach: Jason Nichols
Meridian graduated seven seniors from last year’s 9-win team including Lauren D'Orazio and Lauren Sanor who were honorable mentions last season so It will be up to the program’s newcomers to get the Warriors back in contention for a state tournament berth.
Their last state tournament appearance came back in 2019 when the Warriors lost to Lake City in the state consolation game. Matthew Creech, who is now in his first season at Capital High, was running the program back then.
Record Last Season: 18-8
Head Coach: Ebony Norman
Season Result: Two-and-out at State
Borah is returning one of the best players in the conference from last season in junior Sydney Rodriguez, but also lost a key piece from last season’s winning puzzle in Jayden McNeal.
The duo helped lead Borah to the state tournament and combined for 34 of Borah’s 39 points in the state quarterfinals loss to Timberline.
McNeal was one of eight seniors who graduated last season, leaving a lot of holes in this year’s rotation. The big question now is who will replace that production?
Record Last Season: 8-15 (4A)
Season Result: Missed State
Head Coach: Erica Weissenbuehler
A new head coach will be guiding the Bulldogs through their first year in the 5A SIC and while the program may be new to the 5A level, it’s not new to coaching changes.
Erica Weissenbuehler is Nampa’s 4th head coach in the last four years. She takes over a program that won eight games last season in the 4A ranks but went winless against 5A schools.