State boys basketball is almost upon us. The tournaments are set for Thursday-Saturday in the Boise area, and this year, our area has eight teams represented. Here are capsules on each and a bracket to see where — and who — they'll be playing.
State seed: #8, play-in game winner
Coach: Matt Stucki, first season
Players to watch: G Rhidge Barela, jr.; F Jayden Wright, sr., F Garrett Campbell, sr.
Notes: In Stucki’s first season, team is making first state appearance since 2016… beat Centennial in play-in game… Leading scorers are Jayden Wright (15.8 ppg), Garrett Campbell (9.5 ppg) and Rhidge Barela (9.0 ppg)... Seeking first state championship since 2016, the last year of former coach Chris Frost’s tenure… was not ranked in final media poll of season.
State seed: #2, District 5 champ
Coach: Joe Green, 10th season
Players to watch: G Julian Bowie, jr.; G Kesler Vaughan, jr.; F Gage Ontiveros, jr.; F Krue Hales, sr.
Notes: Thunder are making their second-straight appearance at the state tournament… Looking to avenge last year’s loss in the state title game, which came to Hillcrest… Star guard Julian Bowie, a Boise State commit, averages about 20 points per game… Burley transfer Gage Ontiveros, who stands around 6-foot-9, has been a game-changer around the rim, especially on defense… Team won its first 17 games of the season before falling to Madison in late January… beat Preston twice in district tournament to advance to state.
State seed: #3; District 6 runner-up
Coach: Clint Arave, third season
Players to watch: F Javonte King, sr.; G/SF Deegan Hale, sr.; C/PF Ryan Reynolds, sr.
Notes: Won eight of past 10 games, with only losses coming to district champ Hillcrest. ... King, a Montana State football signee, is the go-to scorer averaging 19.2 points and 8.1 rebounds. ... Hale leads the team with 3.7 assists. ... Missed the state tournament last year after losing an overtime play-in game against Middleton. ... Last made the state tournament in 2020 ... Ranked fifth in the final state media poll. … Won its only state title in 1939, and played in one other championship game (1936).
SNAKE RIVER PANTHERS
State seed: #4, District 5 champ
Coach: Robert Coombs, 30th season
Players to watch: F Marcus Coombs, so.; G Luke Higginson, jr.
Notes: At state for the eighth straight year and 17th time in the past 18 seasons… No. 3 in final media poll of season… Have won four of last five… Haven’t allowed 60-plus points since early January… Trying to build on their fourth-place finish at last year’s state tournament.
BEAR LAKE BEARS
State seed: #2, District 5 champ
Coach: Brandon Carlsen, 15th season
Players to watch: F Tayson Neal, sr.; G Tyler Beresford, sr.; G Bryson Crane, jr.
Notes: Have won 13 straight, including three at the district tournament to earn that title… Making their sixth trip to state in the last seven years. … In that stretch, they’ve captured four trophies, including back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018.
WEST SIDE PIRATES
State seed: #7, play-in game winner
Coach: Tyler Brown, 17th season
Players to watch: F Eli Brown, jr.; F Dylan Ralphs, sr., G Cash Wade, sr.
Notes: Making fifth straight appearance at the state tournament… Leading scorers include Eli Brown (9.0 ppg), Dylan Ralphs (7.8 ppg), Ivan Campbell (7.3 ppg) and Cash Wade (7.0 ppg)... Unranked in final media poll of season.
State seed: #2 District 5-6 champ, play-in game winner
Coach: Rory Lloyd, 16th season
Players to watch: F Tytan Anderson, sr.; G Ty Gilbert, sr. G William Mickelson, sr.
Notes: At state for the fourth straight season… Have won six straight, including 13 of last 14… won district title and beat Rimrock, 71-18, in state play-in game.
State seed: #2, District 5-6 champ
Coach: Shae Neal, sixth season
Players to watch: F Teague Matthews, jr.; F Brandon Neal, sr.; G Brigham Permann, sr.
Notes: Looking to repeat as state champions… Making ninth appearance at state in last 10 years.
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