It's unusual, a varsity high school program with ninth graders accounting for over 70% of the players. But that's the situation with The Com-munity School basketball team, a group of 13 boys including nine freshmen.
As they prepared for their first playoff experience to-gether, the Cutthroats took time out last week before the eight-team Northside Confer-ence tournament to reflect on their season and share some of the fun times.
"You never forget your first team," said first-year head coach Erik Olson, whose team has struggled with a 1-14 rec-ord. "And we sure have some memories from this season."
Olson played and coached in Europe, but he had never expe-rienced anything quite like Northside Conference basket-ball. "Going on the road with the guys has been great, and some of these gyms are straight out of 'Hoosiers,'" he said with a laugh.
The Cutthroats suffered some big losses early in the season, falling at the final buzzer by 54, 46 and 31 points, and the new coach wasn't sure how his young team would handle it.
"I give the freshmen a lot of credit, but I also think Henry has played a big part. He's our best player and he has led the way," Olson said about junior post and leading season scorer Henry Rickbeil (119 of the team's 363 points).
< The freshmen think the whole experience has been ex-citing. Jake Flaherty said, "Playing to win, where it's more serious, is fun."
"Last year (in eighth grade) we had a good time, and we played more for fun," said Ben Swift. "This year, we had to get a lot better just so we could compete. It's been up to us and it's cool having the responsibil-ity."
Bobby Corker mentioned crowds at away games as a highlight, saying, "The crowd at Camas was crazy. Remember that wild guy?" Eight of his teammates nodded in agree-ment.
Olson said he sees dramatic improvement in his young players. Reid Roudabush and Nick Krekow have been par-ticularly impressive as the sea-son has progressed. Roudabush played himself into the rotation at point guard. Krekow has flourished in the paint along-side Rickbeil.
The program will return 11 players next year after seniors Eli Albarran and Dane Inman graduate. That encourages the players and coach.
"Next year we're going to be good," said Flaherty, "And we'll still have two more years after that."
First night of district tour-neys
Top-seeded Carey High School (19-2) won its 11th con-secutive game by a healthy 71-19 margin over The Commu-nity School Tuesday night in the first round of the eight-team Northside meet at Mur-taugh High.
Coach Dick Simpson's Pan-thers put four players in double figures led by Dillon Cenarrusa (14 points, 10 rebounds), Baley Barg (14 points), Blair Peck (12) and Shane Bingham (10). Tay-lor Adler (7 points) and Rick-beil (6) topped the Cutthroats.
The Cutthroats will try to stay alive Monday, Feb. 21 in a 5 p.m. loser-out game against the Camas County Mushers (6-15), a 80-48 loser to Murtaugh (10-6) Tuesday. Carey clashes with home favorite Murtaugh in Monday's 8 p.m. contest.
Meanwhile, the sixth-seeded Wood River High boys' varsity team (0-20) dropped its first game of the Great Basin Con-ference 4A tourney Tuesday by a 62-33 score at third-seeded Twin Falls (16-5). WRHS scor-ers were Stone Sutton 11 points, Ben Williams 8, Kevin Jensen 6, Alex Padilla 4 and Quentin Dowdle 4.
Wood River played Thurs-day night in a loser-out game at fifth-seeded Burley (4-16), a 54-51 loser at Canyon Ridge of Twin Falls Tuesday.