The Diamondbacks held a ten point third quarter lead over Burley in the championship game and looked to be well on their way to a third title in four years when the tide was changed by two weak foul calls on their dominant big gal Chimna Njoku. While she sat, the lead diminished, Burley got physical( and miraculously not one foul call for their big girl despite a bad knee and despite playing against Njoku who averaged 20 points a game last year). I'm not claiming the refs did anything intentional, but I do believe they were guilty of unintentionally favoring the team who looked under-manned/injured. Three or four calls that went against Century and three or four swallowed whistles on the other end changed the momentum in Burleys' favor. Couple that with Century going cold from the outside and a huge three point shot by Burley with about a minute to go and the weaker team took home the banner. Fast forward nine months and we have Burley and Century facing each other in the newly formed 10 team Great Basin Conference. Century returns 9 out of 10 varsity players , Burley lost all starters. I don't think Burley gets close to Century this year. Minico, however will be tough along with Twin, Poky and Preston who all return multiple starters. My prediction for this conference is Century, Minico, Poky making the state tournament with Preston and Twin in the mix. Century returns 4 starters as well as their next three contributors off the bench. They have all progressed and will be led by Njoku who should be an unstoppable force around the rim. She is receiving looks and offers from multiple big time programs (Stanford, Oregon State among others) in basketball and volleyball. The guard line is maturing with Olivia Holt once again running the point and Lexi Bull ( a 6" junior with division one offers) on the wing. Abby Christensen a 6" junior is stronger and faster and should help round out a strong interior and dominant rebounding team. Cassidy, Preslie and Ashton all showed significant improvements over the summer and should provide strength and depth along with defensive pressure. I believe they are the favorites for a state title, but there are some talented challengers, in Minico (ISU signee), Poky, Twin, Preston and the usual favorites in the SIC BK, Middleton etc. That said I think the number one challenge will be from the Bees of Bonneville. The Bees return most of their talent from a team which looked very good in the 5A tournament last year. The Bees have lots of athletes and great shooters. I've heard that several starters are considering not playing in order to focus on club volleyball. That would have an impact on their chances for contending , but not leave the cupboard completely bare because of talent like Sadie Lott among others. I should mention Hillcrest who has a very talented guard who scored 23 points and led a Southeast Idaho allstar team to victory over Century in a summer tourney in Salt Lake. Don't know her name but she was unstoppable that day. Blackfoot also returns multiple talented starters, but probably not quite enough to be in the top five mix. This got a little long winded, but I thought I'd stir the pot and see if anyone is interested in dialog about the upcoming season. Century opens the season this Friday with Highland who has one of the top guards in the state in the Baker girl and a new coach after Green stepped down.
The time has finally come. Here are my predictions. Day 1 -Soda Springs beats New Plymouth -Melba beats Grangeville -Cole Valley beats Bear Lake (Best Game) -Ririe beats Declo Day 2 -Grangeville beats New Plymouth (Best Game) -Bear Lake beats Declo -Soda Springs beats Melba -Cole Valley beats Ririe Day 3 -Consolation: Bear Lake beats Grangeville -3rd Place: Melba beats Ririe -Championship: Cole Valley beats Soda Springs (Best Game) Cole Valley is the biggest team in the tournament and also have the easier side of the bracket. Soda Springs is a great team, but their luck runs out in the championship after having a tougher Friday game against the winner of Melba and Grangeville.