A third straight title?
It was pretty much expected that Coeur d’Alene (25-0 overall, 10-0 league) would capture state championships the past two years.
In fact, the Vikings have played in the state final four consecutive seasons. The core group that carried Coeur d’Alene the past four years graduated, leaving some holes.
But don’t fire off sympathy cards to coach Dale Poffenroth just yet. He returns two starters – 6-foot-3 junior post Carli Rosenthal and 5-9 senior guard Dayna Drager – and has 6-3 senior post Kelsey Bybee, who has given the University of Idaho an oral commitment, to package with Rosenthal. No team in the state will have a better 1-2 inside punch than the Vikings.
Six of Poffenroth’s 10-player roster are new to varsity, including three freshmen. Two of the frosh are expected to see considerable minutes.
“We lost six of our top eight players from last year,” Poffenroth said. “It’s a young group. We’re going to make some mistakes.”
Poffenroth doesn’t deny that pulling off three straight titles is front and center for CdA.
“We’ve got to stay healthy. We can’t afford an injury like we had with Bybee (last year),” he said. “We’ve got to get the younger kids to mature. They will be an important part of what we’re doing.”
Lewiston coach Pat Teichmer believes it will be more of a reloading process than a rebuilding process at CdA.
“I can’t imagine anybody thinking they’re not going to repeat,” Teichmer said. “I’ve heard from people who are saying they’re better than last year.”
Teichmer’s team came close to breaking through and earning a state berth last year. The Bengals (13-8, 5-5) return three starters – seniors Nicole Redd (guard) and Jessica Kramer (g) and junior Tanis Fuller (wing).
Poffenroth expects Lewiston to challenge for one of the two 5A state berths.
Post Falls (16-7, 8-2) returns four starters including its top player, senior wing Katelyn Loper, who has given an oral commitment to Hofstra. The other three returning starters are seniors Danielle Meehan (p) and Krysta Howard (w) and junior Tori Davenport (g).
The Trojans’ most obvious liability is size in the post. It will make for difficult matchups with taller CdA and Lewiston.
Lake City (17-9, 5-5) returns three starters, led by junior Sydney Butler (g). Junior Jenny Kerr (p) and sophomore Jasmyn Smith (g) are the other starters back.
The Timberwolves face the unenviable task of trying to replace four-year starter Katie Baker, who started in her first game at the University of Montana. She averaged a double-double last season.
“You don’t replace her,” LC coach Royce Johnston said. “We’ll be a completely different team without her.”
•In 4A, Moscow (7-16, 3-8) started two freshmen and as many as four received considerable playing time a year ago. The Bears return four starters – senior Selina Miles (g), junior Brooke Mosman (g) and sophomores Chelsea Waters (f) and Abi Quinnett (f).
Lakeland (16-9) has just one starter back in senior Emily Stecker (g). The Hawks must replace do-everything guard Camille Reynolds.
The Hawks’ streak of 10 straight state appearances could be in jeopardy. Just one of the three 4A teams qualifies for state.
“We graduated the fastest girl in the state (Reynolds), but our team speed might be better overall,” Lakeland coach Steve Seymour said. “It will be enjoyable to watch this team establish its own identity.”
Sandpoint (2-20, 0-11) struggled mightily with a young team last year. The Bulldogs return four starters – senior Christina Johnson (f), juniors Charissa Chatburn (g) and Natasha Roop (p) and sophomore Alex Bucholtz (g).
The Bulldogs should be much improved, but it won’t be enough to challenge for a state berth.