Coaches and administrators agree.
The change will be good for everyone involved.
This fall, while still playing one another, Lakeside and Kootenai will no longer count their contests toward league standings.
The two schools will be a classification apart following Lakeside’s jump from 1AD2 to 1AD1, where the Knights will join Wallace and Genesis Prep as members of the newly-formed Scenic Idaho League.
Kootenai, Mullan and Clark Fork will remain in the traditional 1AD2 North Star League.
The transition comes as Kootenai’s numbers have fallen in recent years, and Lakeside’s has eclipsed the allowed enrollment for schools in the state’s smallest classification.
In football, Lakeside and Wallace will battle for the SIC title, as Genesis Prep does not field a football team.
“I think the biggest advantage to forming this new league will be the ability to control who we play,” Lakeside co-athletic director Jerel Hight said. “This coming year our JVs will be playing Kootenai and Mullan, and this will free up our varsity teams to schedule different schools. But the biggest advantage earned by this split will be for the NSL. They won’t be forced to play hugely one-sided games.”
Last season, North Star League boys basketball games between Lakeside, Kootenai, Clark Fork and Mullan ended in an average difference of 40 points per contest.
Remove Lakeside from that tally, and the NSL’s average margin of victory drops to 14.
“The split puts us in a league we are better suited for,” Kootenai athletic director Doug Napierala commented. “We will be competing with teams that are better suited for our situation. We won’t be competing with schools that are three or four times our size.”
Lakeside’s boys basketball team, which has not lost a game since February of 2019, went 4-0 in games against Genesis Prep and Wallace last season. The Miners dropped both games to Genesis Prep by seven points in each.
The Knights are projected to return all but two players from their regular lineup, and apart from Wallace did not play a 1AD1 school last season.
“The kids have to continue to work hard, hit the weight room, hit the court and we will see where we fit in next year,” Mr. Hight added. “We have to get past Genesis Prep and Wallace, and at the division one level competition will be tougher, but if we can make it through we will be set up for another nice run.”
The 2019-20 Scenic Idaho League would have ended with an average win margin of approximately 15 points per game, with three of six games ending in spreads of fewer than 10 points.
Lakeside’s girls basketball coach Chris Dohrman expects a close race between his team and Wallace next season.
The Knights dropped two games to the Miners by eight points apiece.
Both the boys and girls basketball SIC teams will compete for a full state berth in basketball.
“This should be a good league for us,” Coach Dohrman said. “Wallace has a good girls team and should be our major competition next year. There will be a lot more on the line this year when we play, so we will look forward to this renewed rivalry.”