The Northside Conference basketball season is set to tip off this week. Six teams will vie for three possible berths in the 1A state tournament set to begin on Valentine's Day in Nampa.
League teams playing varsity schedules this season include Camas County, Carey, Community School, Dietrich, Richfield, and Shoshone. Bliss and ISDB will field junior varsity teams.
Shoshone, state champion in 2005, finished third in last year's Idaho high school tilt, beating Richfield in the consolation game 55-34. Richfield opened with two wins at state before falling to eventual champion Garden Valley, and succumbing to league-rival Shoshone.
Natural attrition has left many teams with younger casts and consensus among the coaches seems to be the conference is up for grabs.
The Panthers finished with a winning 15-10 record last season and despite being ranked fourth heading into the Northside Conference sub-district tournament finished third behind Shoshone and Richfield. Carey bowed out in a Fourth District play-in game against Oakley, 44-41.
The Panthers graduated six seniors in 2006, among them leading scorer Brenna Silva (10.9 ppg) and Jessica Royal (7.6 ppg), both second team All-Conference selections.
First-year coach Lane Durtschi will look to 5-10 senior forward Allison Shaffer to step into a leading role. Shaffer (5.2 ppg), was fifth in scoring last season and will be co-captain with 5-6 junior point guard Jennifer Cenarrusa.
Durtschi remarked, "Allison boxes out and gets lots of rebounds. Jennifer plays hard and handles the ball pretty well. She really dictates how we play."
5-7 forward Kendra Olson is the other member of the junior class.
Durtschi welcomes five members of the sophomore class on this year's varsity, including 5-10 center Kayla Bailey, 5-7 guard Kelsey Green, 5-7, guard/forward Chelsey Hunt, 5-6 forward Emilee Butcher, and 5-3 guard Shelby Hansen.
Two freshmen help round out the ranks: 5-8 forward Amy Ellsworth and 5-5 guard Jessica Parke.
Durtschi relayed his coaching philosophy.
"I like the girls to work really hard in practice. I want them in shape and to push the ball as hard as we can push it."
Durtschi added he likes to spread the floor and attack from many different areas.
"I want to try and use our speed and athleticism to find our opponents weak spots and use it to our advantage."
A coach at Bliss for six years, Durtschi is very familiar with the Northside Conference and is optimistic about the season.
"I think it will be pretty tough. There are good teams in our conference, but I think we will be right up there in the top part. There's a lot of youth and a lot of question marks. I think Richfield is the team to beat and there will be three or four teams right after that," he said.
Durtschi said he likes his team's spirit and how hard the players work.
"They have a attitude and a desire to get better. They are pretty positive and if we can keep that going I think we will go a long way."
Durtschi currently teaches 7th through 12th grade science at Carey School.
Vee Peterson heads up the junior varsity team with players Shelby Hansen, Amy Butcher, Amy Ellsworth, Jenni Murphy, Taylor Whitby, Candance Hennefer and Shurressa Rodriquez.
It's another year older and another year wiser for the current crop of Cutthroat cagers who have been very busy honing their skills for the upcoming season.
Last year's team, featuring one senior and nine sophomores took its lumps, going 1-12 overall and winless in conference play. The Cutthroats surrendered 55 points per game while averaging 30.4.
But tenth-year head coach Ryan Waterfield (55-83) has high hopes this season's Community School girls can turn the corner and parlay last year's practical experience into this year's wins.
"Last year we were very young, playing in a league that had a lot of experience. This year everyone seems to be in the same boat," Waterfield said. "Our experience is going to help out. We already look better in practice than we did last year."
Eight returning players, including all five starters, add depth to the 10-member varsity.
Junior guards are 5-6 Emily Eshman, 5-4 Cody Curran, 5-4 Jessie Curran, and 5-8 Amaya Ingram.
Forwards and post players in the junior class are 5-9 Caroline Fairchild, 5-5 Hannah Hennessy, 5-5 Chloe Lynn and 5-2 Jean Montgomery.
Last year's high scorer was Ingram averaging 8 points per game. Fairchild posted 7.5 ppg, and Jessie Curran 6.0, but had a great run of 11.5 points per game in the final four contests.
Two tenth graders round out the squad, 5-8 post Elizabeth Beesley and 5-4 guard Marin Shepardson.
"We have a bench this year and I think the girls understand their roles better," Waterfield remarked. "They are all intelligent girls and smart players, who are learning more about the game every day."
This year's captains are Caroline Fairchild, Emily Eshman and Jessie Curran.
For the second year Willy Felton is the assistant coach and will guide the junior varsity squad. Team members include Erica Eshman, Kerry Lee Nelson, Austin Nalen, Kayla Cloud, Jessie Bradley, Lily Pidgeon and Maddy Kate Curry.
2006-07 Carey Girls
A total 18 games on the season schedule for the 2006-07 Carey girls' varsity cagers; 9 home and 9 away. All home games at Carey School gym. Of the 18 games, 10 are Northside Conference contests (marked by *). All home varsity games in bold. In general, starting times are 6 p.m. JV and 7:30 p.m. varsity. When the girls and boys play on the same night, in most of those cases the girls' JV starts at 4:30 p.m. and the girls' varsity at 6 p.m.
DATE, DAY OPPONENT LOCATION
Nov. 16, Thursday Oakley Away, 6:00/7:30
Nov. 28, Tuesday Community School* Sun Valley, 6:00/7:30
Nov. 30, Thursday Richfield* Home, 6:00/7:30
Dec. 1, Friday Carey Holiday Tourney (JV/V) Home, 3:30/6:30
Dec. 2, Saturday Carey Holiday Tourney (JV/V) Home, 3:30/6:30
Dec. 5, Tuesday Shoshone* Away, 6:00/7:30
Dec. 7, Thursday ISDB (JV) Gooding, 6:00
Dec. 8, Friday Murtaugh tournament (V) Murtaugh, TBA
Dec. 9, Saturday Murtaugh tournament (V) Murtaugh, TBA
Dec. 12, Tuesday Richfield* Away, 6:00/7:30
Dec. 14, Thursday Camas County* Fairfield, 4:30/6:00
Dec. 15, Friday Community School* Home, 4:30/6:00
Dec. 20, Wednesday Valley Home, 4:30/6:00
Jan. 2, Tuesday Bliss (JV) Away, 4:30
Jan. 4, Thursday Dietrich* Away, 6:00/7:30
Jan. 6, Saturday Oakley Home, 4:30/6:00
Jan. 9, Tuesday Bliss (JV) Home, 4:30
Jan. 11, Thursday ISDB (JV) Home, 6:00
Jan. 12, Friday Shoshone* Home, 4:30/6:00
Jan. 13, Saturday Hansen Away, 3:00/4:30
Jan. 16, Tuesday Dietrich* Home, 6:00/7:30
Jan. 19, Friday Camas County* (Sr. Night) Home, 4:30/6:00
Jan. 24, Wednesday Northside 1A Sub-District (V/JV) Dietrich
Jan. 25, Thursday Northside 1A Sub-District (V/JV) Dietrich
Jan. 27, Saturday Northside 1A Sub-District (V/JV) Dietrich
Jan. 29, Monday Northside 1A Sub-District championship Dietrich
Jan. 31, Wednesday Northside 1A Sub-District second-place game Dietrich
Feb. 7, Wednesday Fourth District 1A finals/state seeding Dietrich
Feb. 14, Wednesday State 1A tournament Nampa/Columbia HS
NOTES— At the Dec. 1-2 Carey Holiday Tournament, Carey's varsity plays Challis the first night, Dec. 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the new gym, with the winner going against the winner of Lighthouse Christian and Mackay for the championship Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m.. In the girls' JV tournament, Carey plays Challis at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the new gym, with the winner going against the winner of Lighthouse Christian and Mackay Saturday, Dec. 2 at 3:30 p.m. in the new gym.........The 1A Northside/Southside gets 4 berths to state this year, with the Northside assured of state berths for its top two teams....The 16-team State 1A girls' tournament is Feb. 14-17, 2007 at Columbia High School in Nampa (Feb. 14-15) and Nampa (Feb. 14-17) High School.