Leaders with Bannock County and the Idaho High School Rodeo Association are ironing out details of a contract to host the state’s prestigious rodeo finals locally for up to three more years.

The association’s current contract with the Bannock County Event Center is set to expire after the forthcoming rodeo finals, scheduled for June 25-28.

The finals have a substantial economic impact on their host community, bringing in more than 400 contestants from nine districts of Idaho, as well as parts of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Oregon. Between 2,000 and 3,000 spectators fill the stands on any given night.

County and association officials had a falling out prior to last summer’s finals over COVID-19 protocols, culminating with the event moving for that summer to the Bingham County Fairgrounds in Blackfoot for the first few days and the Madison County Fairgrounds in Rexburg for the final day due to weather conditions.

Specifically, Bannock County balked at the plan the association submitted detailing how they would protect the crowd and rodeo participants from the coronavirus.

In the heat of the moment, association leaders vowed they would never return to Bannock County, where the event has been hosted for more than 25 years.

Kelly Duffin, who represents the host Portneuf Rodeo Committee, believes the Bannock County facility offers the best amenities in the state for the finals. Duffin said the association chose to honor their contract and return to Bannock County for this year’s finals during a meeting last June. Shortly thereafter, the association decided reaching a contract to host the event in Pocatello for two more years, with a third year option, was also in their best interests, Duffin said. The association’s board will meet on Feb. 6 to discuss specific details of a new contract.

“Maybe it felt like everything was just rushed,” Duffin said. “I’m going to blame it on the COVID hysteria and not knowing what we were dealing with. ... I think emotions have calmed and the COVID hysteria has calmed.”

John O’Connell/Idaho State Journal

Plan to include more spectators at high school events moving forward

Governor Brad Little announced on Wednesday that due to the decrease in statewide COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, he was instructing the State Board of Education to revise its athletic plan and allow more spectators into high school events.

The plan was recently amended to allow two spectators per athlete at home and away games even though Stage 2 restrictions limit gatherings to 10 people.

“All of our decisions related to the Idaho Rebounds plan have been rooted in detailed metrics related to virus activity and impacts on our health care system. Thanks to the good actions of the people of Idaho to slow the spread of the virus in our communities, we are seeing a continued decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Little said in a statement.

More details are expected from the State Board of Education in the coming days.

-Allan Steele/Post Register

Ririe girls gearing up for postseason learning lessons in the best ways

Jake Landon considered the last two months for his Ririe girls basketball team. The Bulldogs haven’t lost in more than two months now. They’re 16-1 and 4-0 in conference play.

Fortunately for them, though, it hasn’t been long since they’ve identified areas to improve.

Couple ways to explain that. Landon pointed out that across the last few games, his team hasn’t always played especially well, particularly in a win over North Fremont.

That’s the thing, though. The Bulldogs are learning lessons without sacrificing results.

“I think we’ve had enough of those that have kept us grounded and made us realize that we still have things that we need to work on,” Landon said. “I don’t want to even think about trying to lose one of these next four games. We want to roll through these and play the best basketball we have all year.”

On that front, Ririe will face some challenges. Guard Skylee Coles has been out since December with a knee injury, and on Friday, Halley Guthrie went down with an injury. The Bulldogs don’t expect Coles back any time soon, but they’re more optimistic about Guthrie, who could return for the postseason.

That is drawing close, by the way. Ririe has just four regular-season contests left, all conference matchups. If the Bulldogs can hold off West Jefferson (11-3, 4-1) for the top spot in the conference, they will have home-court advantage throughout the district tournament.

The good news for them is that they keep winning and making strides for when it matters most.

“I think the biggest thing that has helped make us successful is that we have depth,” Landon said. “We have several girls that have been able to fill in scoring roles. I think teams have a more difficult time game-planning for us because we have multiple girls who can score the ball.”

-Greg Woods/Post Register

Madison’s King balancing basketball and academics

On the court, Taden King can light up a scoreboard. But that’s not a priority for the Madison senior, who also focuses on his academics.

“Academics first, basketball second,” King said this week after helping lead the Bobcats past Idaho Falls.

“I try to be really efficient with my time I have at school,” King said, noting he’s interested in science, particularly biology.

During the day it’s weights, practice and basketball. Once at home, there’s no TV, no phone and no video games until the day’s homework is done.

King said the key is balancing the work load. He’s taking college prep classes and sports a 4.26 weighted GPA.

That’s a number that might pique the interest of college recruiters along with his scoring prowess.

-Allan Steele/Post Register

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