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North Idaho prep basketball preview: Capsules for each league, team in the region

Boys Inland Empire 5A

(2019-20 record and league finish)

Coeur d’Alene (7-19, fourth): Jon Adams returns to his alma mater to take over the program. He’ll lean on returning starters Luke McLaughlin and Cameren Cope to do battle in the revised Inland Empire League, where the 5A and 4A teams will play in league against each other this season. “We’ll need to get great individual and team defensive efforts every night, dictate the pace of the game and win the turnover and rebounding battles,” Adams said.

Lake City (16-10, third): The Timberwolves bring most of last season’s state qualifier back, and add a big piece in the middle. Senior forward Jack Kiesbuy and sophomore guard Kolton Mitchell were all-league picks, and 6-foot-9 post Blake Buchanan transfers in from Moscow’s state runner-up team last season. “We have a good mix of sophomores and seniors,” coach Jim Winger said. “I expect us to play hard and have very good chemistry.”

Lewiston (13-9, second): Edged out by Lake City in the district second-place game last season, coach Jayson Ulrich returns all five starters and nine letterwinners. “Losing our last game by one point to go to the state tournament will be our motivator,” Ulrich said. “We need to be consistent, but we have a team full of homegrown Lewiston kids that will compete their hearts out with some loaded IEL teams.” The Bengals will be without Kash Lang and Cruz Hepburn at the start of the season, both out with football injuries.

Post Falls (22-4, first): The Trojans were 5A State runners-up last season and lost first-team all-state Colby Gennett (Central Washington), but coach Mike McLean returns four starters, including second-team all-state guard Caden McLean and all-league forward Alex Horning. “We return a team full of experience,” McLean said. “We’ll attack offensively and compete every possession on defense as a team.”

Inland Empire 4A

Lakeland (18-6, second): All-league picks Carson Seay and Noah Haaland return for their senior seasons for coach Dave Stockwell. Jalen Skalskiy and Ammon Munyer will provide depth.

Moscow (17-10, first): Senior second-team all-state guard Benny Kitchel returns for the Bears, the 4A State runners-up last season, as does junior point guard Jamari Simpson. Coach Josh Uhrig will look for balanced scoring and for someone to step up on the boards.

Sandpoint (10-12, third): The Bulldogs graduated two all-league players and have five sophomores and a freshman on their varsity, so inexperience may show on occasion for coach Wade Engelson’s team. Senior Darren Bailey will be counted on for leadership.

Intermountain 3A

Bonners Ferry (7-14, third): Braeden Blackmore, who was an all-league pick last year as a freshman, returns for coach Nathan Williams. Ridge Williams will also be counted on for points.

Kellogg (17-8, first): Coach Mike Martin, in his first year at the helm, is starting with a clean slate, as four starters from last year’s state qualifier have graduated. Twin sophomore guards Riply and Kolby Luna will be counted on heavily, as will senior post Logan Jerome. “We should be pretty versatile and effective defensively,” Martin said. “We don’t have a ton of size, but everyone on the floor is built fairly similar and are all pretty capable defenders. This should let us throw multiple looks at teams and be effective with our versatility.”

Priest River (9-14, fourth): Sixth-year coach Kevin Wylie lost six letterwinners but returns two starters, including all-league pick Trentyn Kreager for his junior campaign. Shooting guard Jordan Nortz transfers in from Riverside. “We’re a very fast team with skilled shooters – players that can score and defend well,” Wylie said. “Our basketball IQ is high.”

Timberlake (8-15, second): Three all-league players graduated, leaving coach Mike Menti looking for leadership – and length – this season. Zach Yetter will be a scorer for the Tigers, while sophomore Ethan Riley is an outside threat.

2A

St. Maries (19-6, first): The Lumberjacks finished third at state last year for coach Bryan Chase – the sixth straight appearance in a state semifinal. All five starters and 10 letterwinners return, including 6-2 point guard Eli Gibson and 6-5 post Tristan Gentry. “I’m excited about our depth,” Chase said. “Eli has a lot of state experience and leadership. The key with this group will be sharing the ball.”

1AD1

Lakeside (24-0, first): Coach James Twoteeth led the Knights to the 1AD2 State title in his fourth season last year and the school moves up a class. He loses all-state guard Talon Twoteeth, but returns two other all-state picks: center Day Day Higgins and point guard Kenyon Spottedhorse. “We have great chemistry with this group,” Twoteeth said. “The outlook is to get to state and make some noise, now that we have moved up a division from last year.”

Wallace (12-10, ind.): Veteran coach Corey Miller returns four starters and eight letterwinners, including all-state guard Carter Bailey and all-league guard Hayden Hogamier. “We will have to get better defensively and on the boards,” Miller said. “We will have good leadership and their work ethic is second to none.”

Genesis Prep (9-9, fourth): The Panthers move up from 1AD2 and bring in former Washington State assist Jeff Hironaka at coach. Senior Nathan Weeks and Eli Gonzales should are the playmakers.

1AD2

Clark Fork (3-15, third): Senior guard Cameron Garcia should lead the Wampus Cats in scoring most nights, while 6-5 senior center Chris Wade provides size.

Mullan (8-8, second): Fresh off their state football run, brothers Luke and Riley Trogden are right back at it on the basketball court. Luke, a junior, is a returning all-league pick, one of three starters and five letterwinners back for third-year coach Paul Elston. “We need to play tough defense and rebound better than we did last year,” Elston said. “Running our stuff in games should translate to success on the court.”

Girls Inland Empire 5A

Coeur d’Alene (18-6, second 5A): The Vikings knocked off Lake City in the district title game last season to reach state. Alhough that trip was a short one, they hope to build on it this year. Second-year coach Nicole Symons’ team is deep, experienced and talented, led by seniors Tori Younker and Jaelyn Brainard-Adams, junior Skylar Burke and sophomore Madi Symons – any of whom could lead CdA in scoring on any given night.

Lake City (14-8, first 5A): The Timberwolves won the IEL 5A regular season but were bounced by Post Falls in the district second-place game. Four starters return, and the offense and defense flows through 6-4 post Brooklyn Rewers, the defending league MVP and Michigan State recruit. “This team has a lot of depth and size,” coach James Anderson said. “Length will cause opponents trouble. To be successful, we will have to have a balanced inside/outside attack and take care of the ball. We hope to be more disruptive this year and play with a lot of pace.”

Lewiston (3-20, fourth 5A): Emily Collins and Katy Wessels will be counted on for offense by first-year coach and former Lewiston and University of Idaho point guard Karlee Wilson. “They’re buying into what I’m trying to do here, with being defensive-minded and stopping the player you’re guarding, just having that mentality a little more than they’re used to,” Wilson told the Lewiston Tribune.

Post Falls (14-12, third 5A): The Trojans topped Lake City in districts and finished fifth at state. Coach Marc Allert loses four starters. “I feel we will have good team speed and athleticism which should allow us to pressure the ball full court and play in transition,” Allert said. “How we will score in the half court will be key to our success.” All-league senior guard Dylan Lovett will be counted on to lead while parts come together.

Inland Empire 4A

Lakeland (8-15, second 4A): Veteran coach Steve Seymour has five letterwinners returning, including 6-5 Katy Ryan, who has signed to play volleyball at Washington State, and IEL 4A newcomer of the year last season junior guard Addie Kiefer.

Moscow (1-15, third 4A): Junior Ellie Gray will be the leading scorer most nights for a young Bears team.

Sandpoint (17-9, first 4A): William Love earned IEL 4A Coach of the Year last year guiding the Bulldogs to a league title and fourth-place finish at state. Gone are league MVP Dawson Driggs and all-league Maddie Morgan, but three starters return, including all-league Hattie Larson. “We are small, with no one 6 feet or taller, so we will have to play aggressive defense and rebound like we are taller to compete in the 4A/5A IEL,” Love said. “We are pretty athletic, so we will need to use that to our advantage.”

Intermountain 3A

Bonners Ferry (11-13, third): The Badgers fell to a senior-laden Teton squad in a state play-in game last year. Veteran coach Travis Hinthorn hopes that experience will help this season, as all-league senior guard Holly Ansley and senior wing Sierra Hill return. Freshman Asha Abubakari (6-foot), off a starring volleyball campaign, will add size.

Kellogg (13-9, second): Returning junior starter Hailey Cheney, Grace Nearing and Darian Hill return, while junior guard Emma Vanhoose and senior wing Piper Raino return from injury for coach Jana Nearing.

Priest River (5-16, fourth): The Trojans lost six to graduation, including all-league post Karah Fink. Three seniors – center Makia Fitzmorris and guards Hannah Palfrey and Annika Rantala – return, but the team is young after that for second-year coach Gary Stewart.

Timberlake (20-4, first): With three returning all-state players, the defending 3A champion Tigers will be looking to win their fourth 3A State championship in the past six years (2016, 2017, 2020). 3A Player of the Year Taryn Soumas, and all-state teammates Brooke Jessen and Blayre Jeffs return for coach Matt Miller, as does senior guard Olivia Hammond, an All-IML selection year.

2A

St. Maries (6-14, third): The Lumberjacks return all but one player from last season, including all-league pick Jenna Holder, for Gary Krumheuer’s first season as girls coach – but 14th overall. “In order for us to be competitive in the league this year, we need to force our will on opposing teams,” Krumheuer said. “We will try to press and fast break our way to getting 60-plus shots per game. The girls have to buy into a completely new system.”

1AD1

Wallace (15-6, ind.) returns its leading scorer, junior guard Jaden House, and its top playmaker, junior guard Elli Welch, to a team that was one game away from state. “The team will rely on their court smarts and competitive nature,” fourth-year coach Nichole Farkas said. “In order to be competitive, we will need to rebound well, handle pressure, and be healthy/injury free.” Genesis Prep and Lakeside move up from 1AD2 to form the new Scenic Idaho League.

1AD2

Mullan (5-12, third) returns all-league senior forward Talowa Fallingwater, while Clark Fork (7-20, second) has to replace league MVP Ellie Kiebert and Kootenai (0-11, fifth) rebuilds in the North Star League.

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