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Coeur d’Alene girls basketball coach Dale Poffenroth eyes his 200th victory as a Viking. (FILE)

Idaho basketball preview

Dale Poffenroth enters his 10th year as Coeur d’Alene’s girls basketball coach.

And for a 10th straight year, his Vikings will be in the conversation as a State 5A championship contender.

The Viks should qualify for state for a 10th consecutive year. They’ve played in the state final seven times under Poffenroth, winning three times.

Poffenroth coached two Central Valley teams to state titles before retiring and moving over to CdA.

With its seventh win this season, CdA will give Poffenroth his 200th career victory at the Viks helm. He won’t reach 600 wins overall this season, but he can get within about 10 and perhaps closer.

The Inland Empire League has owned the state title, winning seven straight championships with all four schools accounting for at least one of those titles. An IEL team has been in the final each of the last eight years.

The string should continue this winter. Beyond that, the league may return to mortal status.

CdA returns three starters off a 21-6 team that lost to Post Falls in overtime in the state final a year ago. The Viks will start five seniors.

“They’ve played together since the seventh grade,” Poffenroth said. “They came to me in the seventh grade and wanted to play in summer tournaments against high school teams. They’ve worked hard and put in a lot of time.”

CdA’s bench was shortened with injuries to two players and the transfer of the Wellsandt sisters to Kamiakin.

The Viks have just one goal. But Poffenroth cautions not to look too far ahead.

“To borrow a line from (Washington State football coach) Mike Leach, all we can worry about is tomorrow’s practice,” Poffenroth said. “But we’ve got a good chance (to win state).”

Around the IEL 5A

CdA’s returning starters are Sydney Williams, a 6-foot-1 senior forward who has signed with San Diego, and senior guards Sydni Parker and Madison Sumner. … Lewiston also returns three starters – senior guard Paige Wells, junior guard Lynzee Wilson and junior forward Emilee Schlader. … Post Falls graduated four of five starters from its state title team. The Trojans’ lone returning starter is senior guard Lexi Smith. Three juniors are vying for starting jobs. … Lake City returns three starters under second-year coach Bryan Kelly. They are senior guard Hailey Jackson, senior post Madi Farrell and junior guard Natalie Wheelock.

What they’re saying

Post Falls graduated most of its scoring and has big shoes to fill. “We have a good combination of penetrators and shooters who could cause some matchup problems,” PF coach Marc Allert said. “We lack experience and size. We’ll be a work in progress throughout the year but should be a factor in the end.” … Kelly likes his team’s potential. He believes the league’s second berth to state is wide open. “We’re pretty athletic,” Kelly said. “We’ll have a lot more threats on the floor than we did last year. We just have to keep getting better. In this league you have to be ready to play every night.” … Lewiston coach Pat Teichmer believes experience, versatility and depth will be his team’s strengths. He welcomes a familiar face to his bench in former Lewiston boys coach Dave Cornelia.

Around the IEL 4A

Sandpoint returns two starters for second-year coach Bill Bender. They are seniors Cassie Young, a wing/post, and Hailey Olin, a guard/wing. … Lakeland also returns two starters for coach Steve Seymour, who begins his 19th season. They are senior post Kelly Ramos and sophomore point guard Emily Vanderhoof. … Moscow brings back three starters for coach Robin Barnes, who enters her 20th as head coach in her second stint. They are seniors Ashley Engberg (wing) and Kim Sprenger (guard) and junior Joelle Stephens (guard). A potential starter, senior post Chloe Quinnett, is recovering from an injury and is expected back in mid-December.

What they’re saying

Barnes cites speed, quickness and team play as Moscow’s strengths. … Lakeland figures it needs some time to blend experience with newcomers. “We hope to be playing our best ball (at the end of the year),” Lakeland’s Seymour said. … Bender expects much improvement now that his players are familiar with him. He said his players have improved their shooting, defense and rebounding. “We’re looking to repeat last year’s winning record and improve by several games,” Bender said.

Around the Intermountain

It would have been a no-brainer which team would have been picked to win the league. Bonners Ferry should have returned all of its starters from a team that took fourth in state. But all starters chose not to turn out after the Badgers coach’s contract was not renewed. First-year coach Chris Chatburn, a former assistant at Sandpoint, takes over with just one key reserve back – senior guard McKenzie MacDonald. … Kellogg returns three starters. They are Makenna Stewart, Jessi Gibbons and Kenadie Arthur. … Priest River returns league most valuable player Jill Weimer. … Timberlake brings back two starters – senior Jessica Norlander and sophomore Payten Rhodes.

What they’re saying

Timberlake could start two freshmen. “It is a hard working group so I expect us to improve a lot throughout the season,” Timberlake coach Matt Miller said. … Chatburn steps into an unenviable situation. “We have a group of seniors who will be stepping in to fill new roles and a few sophomores who will be stepping up to varsity,” Chatburn said. “With the changes in personnel and in the system, it will be midseason before we really know what we will be. If we stay healthy and come together a run at state is not out of the question.” … Kellogg has 10 seniors on its roster. “We should enter the season in good physical condition,” Kellogg coach Eli Bourgard said. “Many of our kids did fall sports and we have spent a lot of our practice time working on our conditioning.” Bourgard expects big things. “We have no excuses with 10 seniors,” he said. “We should be competitive in every league game. We hope to build on some good things we saw last year defensively and continue to improve offensively.”

Around the CIL 2A

Coeur d’Alene Charter returns three starters. They are juniors Anna Verhaeghe (guard) and Sarah Haman (post) and sophomore Jacklyn Jensen (post). CdA Charter finished 18-5 last year and coach Doug Grant has high expectations. “We’ll have early season struggles with underclassmen but by midseason this will turn around,” Grant said. “The underclassmen have experience, just not at the varsity level. They will be asked to contribute to the program as we only have 13 players.”

Inland Empire League 5A:3. Lake City
1. Coeur d’Alene2. Lewiston4. Post Falls
Inland Empire League 4A
1. Sandpoint2. Moscow3. Lakeland
Intermountain League (3A)3. Timberlake
1. Priest River2. Kellogg4. Bonners Ferry
Inland Empire League (2A)3. St. Maries
1. Grangeville2. CdA Charter4. Orofino