The Gregory School’s boys program’s seniors have run drills for four different varsity head coaches.
The coaching turnover hasn’t kept the program from winning, however, as the school has won 20-plus games during the past four seasons. The talent and leadership on the court as well as the bench has helped The Gregory School offset the coaching turnover.
In charge of this year’s team is a former pupil of Tucson coaching legend Dick McConnell, A.J Albritton. The coach and his squad haven’t lost to a 1A Conference team this season, allowing it to earn the No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
On the court, the team is led by the state’s top scorer, senior shooting guard Nick Rosquist (28.9 ppg), who is also third in the state in made threes (98). Junior Addison Mort (17.5 ppg) also contributes heavily, averaging a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game and shooting 54 percent.
The Gregory School won titles in 2008 and 09, and, at 26-1, The Gregory School is the odds on favorite to win another state crown this year.
The No. 2 seed went to second-year Arizona Interscholastic Association program NFL Yet.
Last year the program reached the semifinals with eight players.
“This year’s goal is to win the championships by building on the foundation that was established last year,” NFL Yet athletic director Armando Ruiz said.
This year’s team is coached by Chicago native Albert Ramirez, a strict but fair coach, Ruiz said.
With 13 players on its roster, the depth as well as “team attitude” is much stronger this year for NFL Yet.
The school’s strict academic and attendance standards have helped develop a more competitive team on and off he basketball court. The team’s high-pressure, trapping approach is called 40-minutes of Hell, a phrased coined in the 1990s by former NCAA national championship coach Nolan Richardson of Arkansas.
The loaded roster is able to mix up its lineup to exploit mismatches, Ruiz said. NFL Yet is led by a Division I product, sophomore Shekeedren “BJ” Bryant (15 ppg).
The floor general, junior Frank Garcia, directs a good group of role players, juniors Zion Caston and Dre Quan Bryant and seniors Xavier Johnson, Izaak Ruiz, Tim Nillo and Cheyenne Castro.
Valley Lutheran (23-4), the No. 4 seed, returned to 1A this season.
The program, which finished second at state in 2007 and 2010, is led by eighth-year coach Robert Koehne, the 2014 Spirit of Cotton Award winner.
“The identity of this year’s team is their togetherness and competitiveness,” Koehne said. “They work really well as a unit and have great camaraderie on and off the court. It is also a highly competitive group of guys who fight hard for everything.”
Cade Mousel, Marcello Zanzucchi and Cameron Key are the leaders.
Mousel is “the steady one who keeps everyone calm and holds everyone accountable.”
Mousel is a future college baseball player and has more than 1,000 career points. Marcello is “the one people look to for guidance on and off the floor.”
Cameron is “the emotional leader with a fiery personality and is ultra competitive.”
“The program is about developing young men and helping them become the people God intended for them to be,” Koehne said. “We want to use every lesson we learn on the court and in practice as a way to help our young men grow to be better sons, brothers and friends and eventually have them become great fathers and husbands.”
No. 8 seed Joseph City (21-8) has won one state championship and two runner-ups during its history. This is the first time in more than four years that the program has reached the playoffs and is under the direction of sixth-year coach Eric Miller.
Because of low figures, the school canceled its junior varsity program this season.
“The players that we do have are hard working and have high character,” Miller said. “If I had to choose one characteristic it would be relentless effort.
“Our 11 players are highly-service oriented. All serve significantly in our community through the boys scouts or church related programs.”
No. 5 seed St David (17-7) has won two state titles (1998 and 2002).
It missed the playoffs last year, but head coach Jonathan Watts, who is in his 2nd year, 18th overall at St. David, turned his program into a winner this season. The team captains are 6-4 senior Austin Bryant (12.8 ppg) and 6-1 junior guard James Brogan (12 ppg).
Logan Brubaker, a 6-2 senior, does “all of the little things.” Senior Ryan Trejo is a great shooter, Watts said.