After winning a basketball state championship last year, JonRyheem Peoples aimed to repeat that feat, but the Trojans started off slow to start the season.
“We kind of struggled coming out because we were a young team and I was the only returning starter from last year’s championship team,” People said. “We really didn’t have anyone with experience so we struggled at first. Everyone just bought into the program and things started to click for us and we went on a winning streak.”
At 6 feet 6 inches and 308 pounds and blessed with quick feet and agility, Peoples is a dominant force. But as the heart and soul of his basketball team, there was a growing and unifying moment his teammates had after he left to visit BYU for the official recruit weekend.
“We started doing really but then our team lost when I was on my recruiting trip that weekend when I was out at BYU,” Peoples said. “They lost in double overtime, but the good thing is they gained a lot of confidence without me being there. They gained all that confidence, and so when I came back they just put me back into it and it’s made us a better team. We started on a role and taking out all the teams and now we’re in the district playoffs.”
On Thursday night Rigby will face Blackfoot High School.
“We’ve got a big game [Thursday] coming up, so if we win that then we’re in the district championships on our home court on Tuesday,” said Peoples. “It’s great because we won the state championship last year.”
Not only did Peoples win a state championship in basketball, but he also won a state championship as a member of his track and field team.
“I did the shot put and did alright last year. I threw it around 58 feet or something like that. I hope to get that up to around 60 feet this year. We got two championships in one year, so hopefully we can do it again this year.”
Now back to basketball. For the 2012-13 season, Peoples claims he is the leading scorer in the state of Idaho.
“I’ll have some off games here and there, you know,” Peoples said. “But I’ll have my 20-point games and my 30-point games. Every now and then I’ll get up to around a 38-point game, but whenever the team is down and needs to score I’ll step in and fill that role. I showed Coach that I could step out and shoot the three or I take it inside with my dribbling skills. I have the highest three-point percentage on our team right now, so that kind of helps too and I usually get around 12-to-15 points a game on threes.”
Towering over his opponents at the center position, Peoples also has a lot of inside scoring.
“I also get a lot of points on the easy rebounds on the inside as well,” he said. “I’ll get around five or 10 easy rebounds a game, so those add up to easy points, so it’s not like I’m doing crazy stuff. It’s just all the little things that starts adding up at the end. That’s why I’m the point leader in Idaho at our school.”
So when is Peoples going to run the point? That’s what most fans want to know.
“Hey, when I’ve got the ball and do a crossover they go crazy out here,” Peoples said with a laugh. “I’ve done it a couple of times. But as far as ball-handling skills, if I had better ball-handling skills I would probably do it more often.”
Confident that he can help his team to victory Thursday night, Peoples feels he and his teammates can win another championship.
“Yeah, we have a really good team and everyone has bought into what we’re trying to do,” Peoples said. “We’ve all come together and there’s no doubt that we can do it again this year.”