When Prairie High boys’ basketball coach Shawn Wolter speaks of his team “putting in the miles,” he means that literally.
How far all that conditioning takes the Cottonwood school, it’ll begin to find out Friday when it opens its season against Grangeville (7:30 p.m., Prairie).
“I would expect we’ll be outsized by most of the teams we play,” the first-year coach said, “but as long as we’re not outsized in the hearts, we’ll be in good shape.”
The Pirates, the defending Idaho Class 1A Division I champions, return two guards who were named to the Idahosports.com all-tournament team: Cole Schlader (sixth man) and Sam Mager (honorable mention).
Schlader quarterbacked the school’s football team to a state title this fall while playing through a broken thumb. That will keep him out for a few weeks of basketball, but when the junior returns, he’ll give the Pirates perhaps their most dynamic scorer.
“That kid’s got one of the best jumpers I’ve seen,” Wolter said. “He’s also a kid that — if I’ve got five seconds on the clock and need a shot — he’s able to break a defense down.”
Also capable of penetrating off the dribble for the Pirates are two sophomore guards: Wyatt Ross and Kyle Schwartz.
“They both pressure the ball really well,” Wolter said.
Small forward Damian Forsmann, a 6-foot senior, will man the position at the top of his team’s 1-3-1, full-court zone while power forward Derik Shears, a 6-2 senior, will play what Wolter refers to as the “safety” position at the back of the zone. A handful of other players will rotate through the middle positions.
“Having 10 kids, all (with) similar size and athleticism, I’m going to be taking kids in and out constantly,” Wolter said. “I want them to keep that pressure up 100 percent.”
HOW WOLTER GOT THE JOB — Getting on the court with Prairie’s players during an open gym — when he was still interviewing for the job — is what Wolter, 31, believes set him apart from other applicants. Wolter succeeds Kevin Chaffee, who steered the team for three seasons and resigned in March following the Pirates’ state title.
“I played all the way through college,” Wolter said, “and being able to show the kids on the court that I know what I’m talking about, it helps them see it, as opposed to just hearing what you’re trying to tell them.”
Wolter played basketball for Everett Community College during the 2008-2009 season before transferring for a year to College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif. Wolter was playing for the Snohomish County Explosion of the NABL in 2011 when he got in to a car accident that nearly cost him his leg.
“Doctors told me I’d never be able to play basketball again,” Wolter said. “I proved them wrong.”
NOTES — The Pirates graduated 6-5 posts Spencer Schumacher and Devin Ross. Prairie beat Potlatch 59-51 in the state title game.
Praiirie will be seeking its seventh straight trip to State. The Pirates have played for the title four of the last six seasons, winning it three times.
Edelman may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2277.