Lake City has already tipped off its girls basketball season, but many of the other area squads get going this week.
In openers tonight, Timberlake visits Lakeland, St. Maries travels to Potlatch, and Lakeside faces North Idaho Christian at Holy Family Catholic School.
Post Falls opens on Saturday at home vs. Sandpoint.
Genesis Prep opens Nov. 21 at Kellogg.
On Nov. 28, Coeur d’Alene opens at home vs. Genesis Prep, and Kootenai is home vs. Troy.
Here are brief looks at area girls basketball teams. Teams will be profiled further in the upcoming Press winter sports special section.
Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy disbanded its boys and girls basketball programs last spring.
Coeur d’Alene: The Vikings return three starters from last year’s 8-12 squad — junior point guard Halle Kane and junior forwards Rey Louden and Emily Minerath.
Other varsity returnees include junior guards Kiah Morton and Kate Jacobson.
Newcomers include freshmen guards Jaden Chavez, Tori Younker and Emma Whiteman, a transfer from North Idaho Christian.
“We’re young, and eager to learn,” second-year Viking coach Scott Stockwell said. “We’re raw, a lot of talent, a lot of room for improvement.”
Lake City: The Timberwolves return three starters from last year’s 20-7 team that finished sixth at state — senior post/forward Keara Simpson, junior post Bridget Rieken and junior point guard Chloe Teets.
Other varsity returnees include senior guard Payton Barber and senior post Capriel Halliday.
Newcomers include junior guards Dejah Wilson and Klaire Mitchell. Mitchell, setter on the Lake City volleyball team that finished second at state last month, is out for basketball for the first time since seventh grade.
“We’re an athletic team,” said first-year Lake City coach James Anderson, an assistant in the Timberwolves’ boys program the past 10 seasons. “The addition of Klaire and Dejah makes us very fast, so we’ll be able to pressure and do some things. I’m still waiting to see where all the scoring will come from.”
Lake City lost a good chunk of its scoring with the graduation of guard Nina Carlson, now playing at Idaho, and post Lauren Rewers, now playing at Hawaii.
Post Falls: With everyone back from last year’s 21-3 squad that finished third at state, the Trojans have their sights set on winning a state title this year.
And they’re not shying away from those expectations.
“We know they’re there,” said Marc Allert, in his seventh season as Post Falls coach. “We’re accepting it; we’re not backing down from it. We’re probably going to get everybody’s best shot. We’ll be ready for it.”
Leading the returnees are forward Melody Kempton, who plans to sign with Gonzaga, and guard Bayley Brennan, who plans to sign with NCAA Division II Seattle Pacific.
Also back are senior posts Sydney Parks and Macky Morris, junior guards Jenna Gardiner and Bailey Gleaves, and sophomore twin guards Tyler McCliment-Call and Jacksen McCliment-Call.
Newcomers include junior guard Shaye Schreibeis, who transferred from Genesis Prep and played on the junior varsity last year; and sophomore post Sandy Faulkner, who played last year for the now-defunct Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy program.
Lakeland: The Hawks lost five seniors from last year’s 3-19 team, and return two starters — senior post/guard Sofi Schnepf and junior point guard Lauryn Cooper.
Senior Makenzie Edinger and junior Taylor Elpers, both post/guards, started some last year.
Sophomore point guard Mel Loutzenhiser and junior guards Alaina Pruitt and Isabelle Kirk were on the junior varsity last year, but saw some varsity minutes as well.
“The ability to run is greater with this group, 1 through 10,” said Steve Seymour, in his 23rd year as Lakeland coach. “We have quite a few kids that like to push the tempo and get out and run.
“I see it as a team that scores by committee,” Seymour said. “We should be able to score off turnovers and rebounds.”
Timberlake: Gone is much of the core of the Tigers’ last two state championship-winning teams — including three who are playing college basketball this season.
There’s still a few holdovers from those squads — senior post Kayle Jezek, senior guards Shelby Starr and Lilly Kelley, and junior guard McKeeley Tonkin.
Because of injuries, junior guard Peyton Kronenberg saw significant playing time during last year’s 23-2 season, and junior guard Emily Bronson saw some varsity action.
Newcomers include junior guard Karissa Wilson, and freshmen Brooke Jessen (post) and Taryn Soumas (guard).
Timberlake could be a work in progress during the season.
“I like this team — they’ve got a lot of upside,” said Matt Miller, in his 13th season as Tigers coach. “I think we’ll have more of a balanced attack, inside and outside. In the past we were more perimeter-oriented.”
St. Maries: The Lumberjacks return four starters from last year’s 16-6 team that finished fifth at state in the program’s first trip to state since 2002 — senior post Kaylee Auer, senior guard Paige Sines, junior point guard Madison Cordell and senior wing Devyn Wilson.
Junior post Alena Davenport played a little bit at the end of last season coming off a knee injury. Junior post Kaci Haeg and senior guard McKenna Borgman came off the bench last year, and Nancy Becktel, a 6-foot-3 senior post, played mostly on the junior varsity last year.
“They play really well together,” said Jay Sines, in his eighth season as Lumberjacks coach. The top 6-7 kids, they had a great summer. I think they’re going to surprise some people. I’ve got six kids that can score 10-20 points a game.”
St. Maries graduated three seniors, including post Kelsey Auer, who is playing this season at North Idaho College.
1A Division II
Genesis Prep: Everyone is back from last year’s 15-6 squad that placed third at the state 1A Division II tournament.
Leading the way is junior post Bella Murekatete and junior point guard Rachel Schroeder.
They’re joined by junior guard Trinity Morrow, senior forward Christa Imanzi and junior forward Josie Scribner.
One of the few newcomers is the coach, Brandon Haas, who was an assistant for the Genesis Prep boys team the past three seasons.
“We’re going to go — more of a college style (of play),” said Haas, who replaces Debbie Holte, who coached the Jaguars the last two years. “We’ve got quite a bit of size. Bella’s all of 6-4, and Josie and Christa are 5-10. The girls put in a lot of work over the summer.”
This is the third year the program has been sanctioned by the Idaho High School Activities Association. And, for the first time, Genesis Prep plans to field a junior varsity team.
Kootenai: With only six healthy players to start with, the Warriors have little margin for error.
Senior post Kaili Gentry and senior point guard Courtney Lamb are returning starters for Kootenai, 5-10 last season.
Senior guard Aspen Greene and sophomore post Jacey Grange also saw some varsity action last year. Senior wing Madison Napierala, daughter of coach Doug Napierala, is out for basketball for the first time since her freshman year. Sophomore post Amanda Wine is a newcomer to the program.
One projected starter transferred, and another opted not to turn out.
“We’ll make do with what we’ve got, and get in shape,” said Doug Napierala, in his second season in his second stint as coach, 11th season overall with the girls team.
Lakeside: The Knights lost six seniors, including four starters, from last year’s 16-4 squad that qualified for the state 1A Division II tournament.
The lone returning starter is Tommia Pakootas, a junior guard.
Also back are junior post/guard Suzzana Pakootas, junior point guard Alyssa SiJohn, sophomore post Samantha Adrian and sophomore post/guard Glory Olson.
Others expected to help include freshman guard Kria Peters, freshman post Kamryn Hendrickx and junior guard/post Tara Allan.
“We lost a lot of experience last year,” said Chris Dohrman, in his fourth season as Lakeside coach. “There will be some big holes to fill. We’ll have to do things differently not having Lillian (Rhea, the MVP of the North Star League), but I think we’ll be fine.”