Mountain Home High School
Conference: 4A Southern Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Brent Keener
Years as Head Coach: 7th season
Previous Experience: 18 years in district as teacher/coach
Record Last Year: 6-17
State Titles: None
Written by: Chris Langrill
The Mountain Home High girls basketball team struggled to pile up many victories last season and finished more than 10 games under the .500 mark.
Tigers coach Brent Keener thinks that this year's team definitely has the potential to improve in the win column this season.
“I think we have the ability to compete in our conference,” said Keener who will be coaching in his seventh season at Mountain Home. “Our conference is down a little, compared to what it's been in the past, so I think .500 is realistic.”
Keener said the success of the team may be determined by whether his players can remain healthy.
“We have very little depth, so we're going to have to stay healthy,” he said. “We can't afford any injuries.”
A thinner roster could also impact the Tigers' style of play.
“Defensively, scheme-wise, we're going to mix it up quite a bit between man and zone,” he said. “We're going to pressure quite a bit and get out and run. That's our goal.
“But obviously, with very little depth, we've got to stay out of foul trouble, too. So that's going to be key for us.”
Keener pointed to three players, in particular, who will need to find a way to stay on the court: senior guards Mattie Bennett and Whitney Sandberg, and sophomore post Sable Lohmeier.
Bennett is an experienced player, so Keener will be looking to her for scoring help.
“If things are going to go well for us, Mattie Bennett is going to have to average 16 points,” he said.
But in the end, the one player who might really determine the Tigers' fate is Sandberg.
“Whitney is sort of our wild card,” Keener said. “Athletically, she has the potential to tear up this conference. … She's a 100-meter girl, and she can run.”
Keener has been coaching Sandberg and Bennett for years, and he's excited to see how they respond as seniors.
“I've had Mattie and Whitney … and some of these seniors for quite awhile,” he said. “They played a lot of minutes last season, so they should be able to make strides.”
As for that roster depth, Keener would obviously like to have some more numbers. But he said the school is not seeing the influx of talent from Mountain Home Air Force Base that it had in the past.
“We used to get a lot of Air Force kids that played in high school,” he said. “But now the Air Force is younger.”
And a younger Air Force translates to younger families on the move.
“A lot of times, we'll see a kid who's a pretty decent athlete in junior high,” Keener said. “But then they're gone after a few years.”