Players to Watch:
Kirstin Krause, Grace Lutheran
Sadie Bird, Leadore
Mackenzie Mackay, Leadore
Megan Moore, Mackay
Kaydence Seefried, Mackay
Hayden Corta, North Gem
Taylie Boyer, Rockland
Adie Wilson, Rockland
Layla Diaz, Sho-Ban
Kaitlyn Syverson, Watersprings
Written by: Tristan Gilbert
Can anyone challenge Rockland for the top spot in the Rocky Mountain Conference this year? The Bulldogs are coming off a year in which they went 24-1, including a 16 game winning streak to close the season on their way to a 1AD2 State Title.
Rockland returns key players in Taylie Boyer and Adie Wilson. This duo may be tasked with shouldering a majority of the pressure put upon this team. They are defending state champions, and expectations are just as high headed into this season, as our first coaches poll has them slated as the number one team in the Rocky Mountain Conference going into 2022.
If any team is to dethrone Rockland from atop the Rocky Mountain, it will likely be Leadore.
Leadore finished last year at 20-7 and was the only team other than Rockland to make the state tournament in this conference. The Mustangs have a lot of talent back, primarily in 1st team all-conference performers Sadie Bird and Mackenzie Mackay. Head Coach Janet Proulx also cited freshman forward Lexi Bird as a potential impact player this year.
The team that finished 3rd in the Rocky Mountain Conference last season was North Gem.
North Gem is very intriguing, as there is a lot of roster turnover on this team. They will certainly miss the presence of last year’s leading scorer Dannika Barfuss. This is a team that will need to grow up fast as of the ten girls they have on their roster, five are freshmen. The team will need to rely on junior point guard Hayden Corta (1st team all-conference last year) for both leadership and consistent play this season.
Mackay is a team that enters this season with high expectations.
Mackey returns key players in Kaydence Seefried and Megan Moore. They will hope to improve upon the 14-9 mark they held last season.
Two teams that have an opportunity to surprise people are Sho-Ban and Grace Lutheran.
Sho-Ban is coming off of a 5-12 season, but first year head coach Lethaniel Loley is very optimistic about this group. Loley told us, “This year's team has a lot of talent that can change the girls basketball program. It will take some time but once everything comes together it could change the culture of the program. It will be an exciting season for everyone on the team and in the community of Fort Hall.”
As for Grace Lutheran, they are coming off of a 2-14 season, but there is belief around the conference that this team could be primed for a much improved year. One coach, when asked which team could surprise some people this year, responded with this; “Grace Lutheran - I think they are always on the brink of greatness and it is only a matter of time before they blow all of our minds.”
If the Royals are to accomplish that feat, coach Ryan Strehlow will have to get the most out of his group. “This year we only have 6 girls on the team so we are going to try to slow the game down a bit, have a few less possessions so that we can hopefully still be fresh come the fourth quarter,” Strehlow said.
With only six players, many of them are fairly new to varsity basketball. “We really want to simplify our offense and my hope is always to teach girls how to be basketball players rather than play basketball,” Strehlow said. “Where to cut, how to move with and especially without the ball. The scoring will come if you do all the little things well.”
Watersprings finished last season 6-15. They will likely rely on Kaitlyn Syverson, in hopes of improving upon last year's win total.
The remaining teams in the Rocky Mountain Conference are Clark County and Taylor’s Crossing.
Clark County was 2-17 last season, and hopes to show signs of improvement this season. As for Taylor’s Crossing, this is their first season within the Rocky Mountain Conference, so there is no telling how well this team will perform in 2022.