Tough as they come
If you listen to Post Falls coach Mike McLean or Coeur d’Alene coach Kent Leiss, the 5A state champ should come from the IEL. Every other team in the state – including Post Falls and CdA, depending on which coach you’re talking to – is playing for second. There’s good reason why those coaches should be optimistic. No league has been tougher in the state in recent seasons than the IEL, and this season could prove as difficult as any. Post Falls, which captured a state title two years ago, figures it should be listed among the favorites this year. CdA, coming off a third-place finish at state and returning its team intact, also should rank among the best by season’s end.
Three 5A all-league players return in Coeur d’Alene seniors Deon Watson and Chad Chalich, both four-year starters, and Post Falls senior Marcus Colbert, also a four-year starter who has signed with Montana State University.
Three 4A all-league players return in Moscow seniors Lane Brooks and Koby Jung and Sandpoint senior Jackson Olin. Moscow also returns senior Josh Helbling, the league’s newcomer of the year last season.
What they’re saying
Certainly as Colbert goes so will go Post Falls. But the Trojans return two other starters and four other lettermen. So Colbert has plenty to work with. The team reminds McLean of his state championship team. “We have experience at every position and the ability to play any style of basketball,” McLean said. He also likes the Trojans’ size and physical play. “I think this team could be very special,” McLean said. “We have some very good players who are very skilled and are hungry to prove how talented they are. I’m excited to see what this team can do together.” … CdA returns four starters. “We are a veteran team with a lot of senior leadership,” Leiss said. “That should once again be a strength. Watson and Chalich can score, defend and rebound.” Chalich, who quarterbacked the football team to a second straight state title, fractured the outside bone of his right foot and will be in a cast about four weeks and probably a boot for another week or two before he returns. Leiss hopes his team will share the ball. “If we play as a team, we will be very good,” Leiss said. “If we defend and rebound and play as a team, we have a chance to win it all in Boise.” … Lake City coach Jim Winger will have one of his youngest teams. The Timberwolves return no starters. If LC is going to compete, it must defend – and that’s an early-season concern for Winger. Despite the youth, Winger does like some things. “We are a good shooting team and we have some size,” Winger said. … There’s a new face at Lakeland but not a new face to the league. Former Post Falls coach Dave Stockwell, an assistant the past four years at University, takes over at Lakeland. Stockwell’s Hawks will be young. They return just one starter – senior Eric Cooper. Stockwell will likely start a freshman at point guard, Tyrell Derrick, son of the former coach, Trent Derrick, whom Stockwell replaced. “We’re pretty inexperienced, but I really like their work ethic,” Stockwell said. “They’re getting used to me and I’m getting used to them. They’re getting used to my system. It’s made for them more than what they’ve been doing.” … Sandpoint graduated four starters along with seven other lettermen. “We have worked hard in the offseason and are looking to improve,” Sandpoint coach Tyler Haynes said.
|Predicted finish||2. Coeur d’Alene|
|3. Lake City||2. Lakeland|
|1. Post Falls||4. Lewiston||3. Sandpoint|