Emmett boys basketball rode the scoring bursts of Brett Kern and the above the rim play of Carter Fletcher a year ago. The pair accounted for nearly 70 percent of the points the Huskies scored last year on the way to a 3-18 season record in the formidable 4A Southern Idaho Conference.
Kern set an EHS per game scoring record for the season, averaging just under 24 points per game. The 6’6” forward broke the 30 point barrier five nights during the season. Fletcher, a 6’4” post, broke the 30 point level twice.
That’s a lot of size and a lot of offense to replace.
EHS coach David Dust knows that the youth stepping into those shoes may not be able to fill the net as often. He feels the overall energy and defensive intensity of his newest Huskie model, however, could translate to more consistency and perhaps more success. It won’t come easy.
“We not only lost those two who could score from inside or outside the arc, we lost other valuable seniors,” Dust said. “We can’t make that up just by plugging someone into those spots. We will have to make it up as a full team – with more balance. I think this team can be better and more consistent defenders and that can go a long ways.”
Returning starters are all on the perimeter. Harry Mumford ran the point last season as a sophomore and Riley Weekes, a senior, was a swing man at the three guard spot. Getting valuable playing time last season on the varsity was freshman Tanner Wilkerson. Those three look to be joined inside this year with junior varsity standouts who joined the varsity near the end of last season – senior Bryr Walker and sophomore Caden Young. Walker and Young, though not as tall as Kern and Flethcer, will be the anchors inside this season.
Dust sees some shifting of roles on the perimeter this season to take advantage of each of the players’ skill sets. Mumford, who can get hot from the perimeter, will shift to the two-guard position, and Wilkerson will slide out to the point. Weekes will continue to be the utility man working inside and outside the paint.
Additional depth on the perimeter will come from senior guards Kiko Solis and Hayden Alder along with junior Tanner Brown. Dust had high hopes for junior Timmy Williams contributing inside but a knee injury has sidetracked his season. Axel Sanchez, a 6’2” All-SIC linebacker will now be the primary relief inside in just his second year of basketball.
The smaller lineup doesn’t concern Dust as much as their willingness to play under control – and yet at a breakneck speed. “I thought we came a long ways last season in making adjustments to a higher tempo offense triggered by the defense. The second time through the league we had a lot of close games because of our pressure and aggression – including a win over regular season champion Columbia.” Dust said.
That aggression will need to be there at the start of the season this year.
“Ideally we would not have to run much of an offensive set and face a half-court defense very often,” Dust said. “We have to hit the fast break and the transition, but also take smart shots and be willing to pull back and reset if we don’t have what we want. We have to finish a lot better at the rim and convert the free throws we will draw when we run the break correctly.”
Emmett is not the only team filling some significant holes in their teams from a year ago.
“It’s Middleton and then all the rest of us,” Dust said when asked to pick favorites for this year’s SIC run.
The Vikings return with their starting five nearly intact. Only senior Gaard Memmelaar is not returning to the court for Middleton this year as the University of Washington football signee is planning to graduate early and join that Husky program in January. Middleton was the third SIC team to make it to State last year but went 0-2 in its appearance.
Columbia High was the District III champion and went 1-2 at State. Vallivue took second at Districts and lost the third-place game at State. Both the Wildcats and Falcons graduated All-State performers in Jake Poulton and Amoro Lado respectively.
“Bishop Kelly will always be strong,” Dust said. “They just reload and had a very strong JV team last year.” The Knights won the top-seed into the District tournament but failed to make State.
Kuna returns only one starter, Sean Austin, but he was their leading scorer as a sophomore last year on a team that finished second in the conference in the regular season.
Emmett will open its season this Friday evening at home when Weiser comes calling for a non-conference encounter. The Huskies then jump directly into the SIC schedule at Middleton on Tuesday before returning home to host Nampa on Dec. 12. The pre-Christmas schedule ends on Dec. 17 with Parma coming to Emmett for a non-conference meeting.