After eight straight years of losing to northern Idaho, the Treasure Valley won its first 5A state girls basketball championship since 2006 with Mountain View’s first in school history last season.
But the 5A Southern Idaho Conference’s resurgence wasn’t limited to the Mavericks. Boise finished second and Eagle won the consolation title, keeping three of four trophies in the conference. The SIC remains loaded again with Mountain View point guard Destiny Slocum heading a deep group of Division I signees and recruits.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Destiny Slocum, sr., PG, Mountain View
Slocum brings an impressive resume into her senior season. In the past year, the No. 7 player nationally in her class, according to ESPN, won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2015 FIBA U-19 World Championship, led Mountain View to its first state title, signed with national power Maryland and earned the All-Idaho and Gatorade Player of the Year awards.
“It is rare to have such a highly rated player in our area,” Timberline coach Todd Simpson said. “She can do everything and is a match-up problem for everyone. She is strong, fast, can shoot, go to the basket and pass the ball. She has the ability to make everyone on her team way better as a result of her vision and skills.”
Coach: Kim Brydges, 11th season
Last year: 18-8, 11-5 5A SIC
Returning starters: Issy Hadden, sr., F/P; Hanna Orton, sr., G; Mandy Simpson, jr., F; Audrey Dingel, sr., PG
Breakdown: After finishing second at district and state, the Braves return the most dominant front court in the conference. Hadden has signed with Idaho after averaging 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks on her way to first-team All-Idaho honors last year. And Simpson, recruited by multiple Division I schools, was second-team All-Idaho behind 14.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Brydges said Boise is focused on adding a transition game to complement its half-court offense.
Coach: Jason Willer, fourth season
Last year: 9-12, 7-9
Returning starters: Kiana Corpus, jr., G; Michal Bilger, sr., W; Alesia Jones, so., G
Breakdown: The Lions have eight returning lettermen, including Bilger (7 ppg, 9 rebounds), entering her fourth year as a starter, and Corpus (11 ppg), entering her third year. “The team’s confidence is high, knowing that our experience will help to handle the difficult pressures of playing in the SIC,” Willer said. Willer said experience should help a team that has struggled to score consistently in the past.
Coach: Blas Telleria, Jr., ninth season
Last year: 8-15, 7-9
Returning starters: Bella Lewis, jr., G; Yesenya Bendinelli, so., G; Elly Johnson, so., G
Breakdown: Capital began a youth movement last season and returns nine letterwinners from a year ago. But the Eagles still remain young with six sophomores and three freshmen on varsity. “These girls have played a lot of quality basketball with their club teams, but getting them used to a varsity level of expectations, speed and physicality will be a priority,” Telleria said.
Coach: Cassie Bro, fourth season
Last year: 20-6, 13-3
Returning starters: Dominique Williams, sr., G/F; Tori Williams, jr., G; Lauren Brocke, jr., G/F; Ayana Amaechi, jr., PG
Breakdown: The Patriots won the district title last winter for the first time under Bro. With the two Williams players (no relation) returning, they remain a threat to defend their title. Dominique Williams (11.6 ppg, 7.2 rebounds) has signed with Weber State. Tori Williams (17.1 ppg), a three-star recruit according to ESPN and a first-team All-Idaho member, has drawn significant Division I interest. Bro stressed how much more mature her team has become in the past year.
Coach: Laurie Kiester, first season
Last year: 1-21, 0-16
Returning starters: Chloe Curry, sr., PG; MaQuenna Quintero, sr., G; Sierra Ambrosek, sr., P; Shanae Kreps, so., P; Tianna Williams, jr., G
Breakdown: Columbia’s first 5A season was rough, with its lone victory coming over Nevada’s Spring Creek in a holiday tournament. But Kiester, an assistant last season, said the team returns loads of speed and athleticism. She said the program had enough turnout in the offseason to field three summer teams for the first time in years.
Coach: Cody Pickett, third season
Last year: 18-8, 11-5
Returning starters: Jenny Stevens, sr., P; Cassidy Tiegs, jr., G; Abby Mangum, jr., G; Katelyn Murray, so., P
Breakdown: With six key returning members off last year’s state tournament consolation championship team, including four-year starter Stevens, Eagle remains poised to bring home another trophy. The 6-3 Stevens and 6-0 Murray give the Mustangs a formidable front court, while Tiegs, the team’s leading scorer as a freshman and sophomore, can run the point. With only two seniors and two juniors, Eagle still remains a young squad.
Coach: Amos Lee, fifth season
Last year: 4-18, 2-14
Returning starters: Jessica Watson, sr., G; Jaynee Taufoou, jr., F
Breakdown: Taufoou (8.5 ppg, 4.4 rebounds) and Watson (2.9 ppg, 2.2 assists) return to lead a young team. Lee said half of the team has no varsity experience, but he still likes the basketball savvy on the roster. “We plan to shock some people who have not seen our full deck just yet and catch some people off guard,” Lee said. “This year is a proving grounds for us.”
MOUNTAIN VIEW MAVERICKS
Coach: Connie Skogrand, 13th season
Last year: 26-1, 16-0
Returning starters: Destiny Slocum, sr., PG; Abby Kreiser, jr., G; Devenee Villareal, sr., G
Breakdown: Slocum, who averaged 25.2 points, 5.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds last season, will draw a lot of attention. But the Mavericks return plenty of scoring options around her, including Kreiser (8.6 ppg, 2.5 steals), on a team built around speed and perimeter shooting. The defending state and 5A SIC regular-season champ lost three of its top rebounding options from a year ago. “We just have to attack the boards this year,” Skogrand said.
Coach: Nichole Schutte, first season
Last year: 16-10, 10-6
Returning starters: Jennifer Castaneda, sr., G; Nica Ibarra, sr., G
Breakdown: Nampa will look like a different team with the loss of coach Cameron Long (now at Nampa Christian) and 10 seniors, including Northwest Nazarene freshmen Danielle and Raquel Jardine. Schutte, a former Nampa High and NNU player, said the Bulldogs can rely on a backcourt of Castaneda, Ibarra and Sabrina Castaneda to apply pressure for 32 minutes.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN GRIZZLIES
Coach: Emery Roy, fourth season
Last year: 19-10, 11-5
Returning starters: None
Breakdown: Injuries have already thinned Rocky Mountain’s squad. Senior Rachel Fielder is out with knee surgery, senior Madi Thompson broke her leg and senior Stephanie Hall is also battling a knee injury. Senior guard Maddie Hall has carried the Grizzlies thus far, averaging 17 points through three games.
Coach: Todd Simpson, fourth season
Last year: 3-18, 2-14
Returning starters: Jordan Adams, so., G/F; Sarah Briggs, sr., P
Breakdown: The Wolves had trouble filling the basket last year, scoring 29.2 points per game, second lowest in the league. Simpson said a youth movement led by Adams and four incoming freshmen should help. Elena McHargue will take over the point, and Ashlyn Ascuena-Mercil will hold down another guard spot. Sydney Davis and Miranda Lamb will fight for playing time and can add offensive punch.
Coach: Neil Stutzman, third season
Last year: 9-14, 6-10
Returning starters: None
Breakdown: Vallivue starts over without any returning starters and just three upperclassmen. The roster features four sophomores and five freshmen. “(We’re) looking to build for the future with the young talent in the program,” Stutzman said.
Preseason coaches’ poll
Team (1st-place votes)
1. Mountain View (8)
2. Eagle (3)
4. Centennial (1)
6. Rocky Mountain