BLACKFOOT — There is a changing of the guard for another Blackfoot High School sports team as Clint Arave was named the new Blackfoot Broncos boys’ basketball head coach over the summer.
Arave, who was the top assistant for the Broncos’ basketball program for the past several years, takes over a program that graduated most of its top players, including the top scorer in Reese Robinson, the top three-point shooter in Jett Shelley, and several other players who had starting experience from the team that qualified for the 4A state tournament last spring.
That team was 0-2 at the state tournament and there are a few players left from that program and will be bolstered from a strong junior varsity team a year ago.
This year’s team will have a lot more height than previous teams and from what has been seen during the summer practices and jamborees the team has participated in, it looks like the Broncos may feature a double low post offense and more zone defense than in years before to take advantage of the height, especially on defense and with rebounding.
Sophomore Ja’Vonte King will move into the starting lineup alongside Candon Dahle and the pair of 6’5” players could present a lot of problems for opponents, although both are slender players and don’t have a lot of bulk.
“Skywalker” Carter Layton, who it seems can leap out of the gym at times, will round out the front line and will be a big help on the rebounding end of things and give the Broncos some additional punch offensively. A year ago, when Layton was added to the starting lineup, the Broncos made their push into the state tournament.
The guards could end up being a combination of whoever is hot at the time and could vary from game to game in order to get the best match-up for the team. The Broncos have a lot of talent and experience in the backcourt, but the leaders right now appear to be Jace Grimmett and Jaden Harris. There are plenty of backups ready to spell those guards, including Jaxon Ball, Miles Toussaint and others.
This is a clean slate for the Broncos, and now they must go out and prove what they can do and get coach Arave off to a great start.
As usual, the High Country Conference did not give the Broncos any favors when it came to the schedule they will play, with no less than eight games of the 20-game schedule against 5A schools from the High Country Conference. It always seems as if the conference is more concerned with getting the easiest schedule for the 5A schools that do not require much travel and the 4A schools in the conference pay the price.
At some point in time, one or more of the 4A schools will suffer some injuries that cost them any chance at a state title and the conference will have to be re-constructed to make things a bit more fair.
For now, games against the likes of Madison, Highland, Rigby, Thunder Ridge, and Idaho Falls will just have to be part of the equation.
Most early predictions have Hillcrest as the team to beat in the 4A part of the High Country Conference and, of course, Blackfoot will have some old foes in Preston, Pocatello, and Century on the schedule and of those Century is big and bulky inside, so it will give the Broncos a good taste of what life is like outside of eastern Idaho.
How well the Broncos are able to negotiate the non-conference part of the schedule and how well they can handle the Hillcrests, Bonnevilles, Shelleys and Skylines of the world will set them up well for the District 6/High Country Conference tournament in the middle of February.
There is no reason the Broncos cannot advance to the state tournament for the second year in a row, but a lot will depend on how well King and Dahle can work as a tandem down low and control the boards. That has been a weakness in the past several years and it is a must to be able to rebound in order to get to and through the district tournament.
The Broncos’ failure to rebound well in the past has been the Achilles…