You never know what will happen in boys hoops
December 1, 2010 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365
By Don Ketchum
The races for the state boys basketball championships in 2010-11 appear to be as wide open as they have in quite some time.
Here is an overview of what could transpire among teams in Phoenix, the west, northwest and north Valley and northern and northeast Arizona . . .
Class 5A Division I
The east Valley has its share of title contenders (Mesa, Mesa Mountain View), but challengers also should surface elsewhere.
Keep an eye on teams such as Phoenix North, Phoenix Brophy Prep, Phoenix St. Mary’s and Laveen Cesar Chavez. North is the defending state champion and Cesar Chavez the runner-up.
North features one of the state’s top inside players in 6-foot-7 senior Alan Williams. St. Mary’s is led by 6-3 senior guard Chris Mason.
Phoenix Alhambra is seeking a return to its glory days in the Metro Region. The Lions’ two top scorers return, 6-3 Eric Garcia and 6-3 Sean Malakowsky, but they will need help.
Class 5A Division II
Anthem Boulder Creek is the defending state champion, but lost two key seniors in inside player Alex Dykuizen and three-point shooter Ryan Crane. The Jaguars, setting up shop under coach Randy Walker in the Northwest Region, have guard Ryan Zettle and swingman Josh Braun back.
Zettle, a senior, hit a pair of key three-pointers in the championship win over Scottsdale Chaparral, and Braun, a sophomore, provided a game-clinching block with just seconds to play.
For Boulder Creek to have a chance at a second straight trophy, it will have to survive its own region, which has improved pretty much across the board.
Two key additions to the Northwest coaching ranks are Walker’s brother, Dirk, at Kingman, and Jerry Conner at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
Dirk Walker played for Randy Walker about 10 years ago at Cave Creek Cactus Shadows and coached Cactus Shadows in recent seasons after a college playing career at Simpson in Des Moines, Iowa.
Conner began the program at Phoenix Shadow Mountain in the early 1970s and was there until the mid 2000s, when he took a collegiate coaching job in Mississippi.
Dirk Walker has four starters returning at Kingman – 6-1 guard Danny Gonzalez, 6-3 swingman Trey Anthony, 6-5 forward Kameron Cummins and 6-2 swingman Tyler Skubal.
“We are going to battle and compete every night,’’ Dirk Walker said.
Conner seeks at the minimum a reversal of last year’s 10-14 finish by the Eagles. Two key returners are 6-4 senior swingman Brian Ciurlino and 5-8 senior guard Andrew Mendoza. The team also should get a boost from 6-1 guard Michael Langham, a transfer from Illinois.
Horizon, which fell to Boulder Creek in the state tournament, won its first region title (Desert Valley) in 20 years. Coach Paul Long believes he has the talent to do it again. Chaparral and Scottsdale Desert Mountain also figure to be in the mix.
Long has 6-2 senior guard Collin Woods, who has signed with the University of California-Irvine. Eric Lewis, a 6-8 junior, provides a big inside presence. Jordan Dunatou, a 6-6 senior, is perhaps the team’s best athlete (he has a baseball commitment to Oregon State). Jack Wood, a 5-7 senior guard, hit 55 percent of his three-point attempts last season, a school record.
Tolleson could be a sleeper in the Desert West Region. The Wolverines are led by new coach Rich Brumbaugh and are led by 6-5 junior forward Stacy Davis, who averaged 14.6 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. Brumbaugh had reason for optimism because his team won a summer tournament at Goodyear Desert Edge without Davis.
Veteran coach Charlie Wilde leads a young, talented team at Phoenix Pinnacle. The Pioneers are led by 6-4 sophomore Drew Bender (11 points a game), 6-1 junior Kevin Bowman, 6-8 junior Cody McDavis and 6-3 freshman Dorain Pickens.
Phoenix Central and Laveen Betty Fairfax are two of the Division II challengers out of the Metro Region. Central is led by 6-3 junior guard Robert Selmon. Phoenix Carl Hayden, with longtime coach Argie Rhymes at the helm, also should not be counted out.
Class 4A Division I
Glendale Raymond S. Kellis and Peoria High likely will take the West Valley Region down to the wire.
Raymond S. Kellis has a developing star in 6-1 junior guard Demetrius Balark. Peoria, in its first season under coach Michael Serwa, is led by 5-11 junior point guard Dewayne Russell. Region Player of the Year honors went to Russell. He should have help with Lawrence Pierce, a transfer from Glendale Deer Valley, and 6-11 senior Stephen Hadley.
Glendale Apollo, Phoenix Moon Valley and Phoenix Shadow Mountain will fight it out in the Western Sky Region.
Moon Valley has a new coach (Dan Peterson). The Rockets will be strong in the backcourt, with senior point guard Devon Parrett and junior Micah Behrens, a shooting guard. Behrens showed what kind of touch he has when he scored 47 points against Prescott last season, breaking the team record of Richard Jefferson, who now is in the NBA. Behrens did it by hitting 11 of 15 three-point shots.
Class 4A Division II
Phoenix Thunderbird is in the state championship football game, and the school’s basketball team also has a good chance to grab the trophy.
Coach Buddy Rake will have two key players back on the court – 6-2 junior guard Marcus Wheeler, the region’s Player of the Year last season (14.1 points), and 6-4 Ronald March (15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds).
Desert Edge and Peoria Liberty are the likely top teams in the Skyline. Desert Edge has three starters returning. Liberty has four key players back – 6-4 senior Josh Sparks, 6-4 junior Jake Patterson, 6-3 junior Nathan Bannister and 5-7 senior Jereme Paddock.
Buckeye also could be a factor in the Skyline. The team finished 17-10 last year and suffered a close loss to Tucson Palo Verde in the first round of the state tournament (85-82). The Hawks will be bolstered in the backcourt by 5-11 junior Phillip Barrett (10.4 points) and 6-foot senior Ben Vargas.
Goodyear Estrella Foothills lost a number of key players from last season’s state championship team, so that should open the door for several teams to make a run at the trophy this season.
The team most likely to benefit will be Round Valley, which has four starters returning from last year’s state runner-up team that finished 27-8 and was the East Region champion.
They are 6-foot point guard Troyal Turquoise, who was the 3A three-point shooting champion, 6-4 forward Michael Ciminski, who averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds, 6-1 guard Rulon Udall and 6-3 forward Chantz Davis, who was the quarterback for the Elks’ football team.
The North Region is to 3A basketball is what the East Region is to football.
Virtually any of the seven teams could beat one another on a given night, most played in front of jam-packed crowds in the Navajo nation. The schools are Chinle, Ganado, Holbrook, Kayenta Monument Valley, Tuba City, Fort Defiance Window Rock and Winslow.
Winslow might rate a slight edge, at least in the early going, due to the outstanding all-around play of guard Kraig Shirley, who also played quarterback for the Bulldogs.
Estrella Foothills still has enough firepower to survive in the West Region. The team likely to provide the most resistance is Parker, which was the No. 14 seed in last year’s state tournament.
The Phoenix area’s Christian schools are forces to be reckoned with, but they could be upstaged this season by a strong Phoenix Westwind Prep team.
Westwind, out of the West Region and last year’s state runner-up, is led by 6-5 junior guard Demarquise Johnson.
Phoenix Northwest Christian would like to earn a state championship basketball trophy to match the football title hardware it recently won.
The Crusaders feature four returning starters from a team that reached the state semifinals. Dakota Anderson, a 6-foot senior, is one of the top guards in 2A. He averaged 18.2 points and 3.6 assists last season. Anderson’s brother, Hayden, a 6-2 junior guard, also can create trouble for opponents after averaging 12.6 points and 4.1 rebounds last season.
The other two starters are 6-2 senior center Travis Linser and 5-11 junior guard Casey Jahn, key players for the football team.
Defending champion Scottsdale Christian might not be at the level of last season, but still has a solid group of returnees led by 6-8 forward Cody Ostertag.
Phoenix Arizona Lutheran will be attempting to bounce back from a 12-15 season. The Coyotes are led by 5-10 junior point guard Kenny English, 5-11 junior wing Joe Burnside and 5-10 wing Ben Grams, who slashes toward the basket like he does toward the end zone as a running back in football.
Williams might be making some noise in the North Region after a 19-6 finish. The Vikings have won the region three out of the last four years. They are led by 6-2 senior shooting guard Darius Brown, 6-foot senior point guard Doug Forbis, 6-3 sophomore forward Jeff Brownlee and 6-5 junior center Mychal Dennison.
Don’t be surprised to see Phoenix Valley Lutheran challenge Gilbert Christian (AKA Surrey Garden) for the top spot.
Joseph City always has well-rounded athletes, and the state semifinalist team should be a factor in the North along with tiny St. Michael, another semifinalist.
Orme should make a run at Valley Lutheran in the West Region. The team is led by 6-2 senior guard Metehan Akcam, who averaged 26 points per game and was named the region MVP last season. Other key players are 6-3 senior guard Theo Turner and 6-2 junior guard Hakim Mitchell.
Class 5A Division I – Phoenix North def. Laveen Cesar Chavez, 71-66.
Class 5A Division II – Anthem Boulder Creek def. Scottsdale Chaparral, 59-58.
Class 4A Division I – Tempe McClintock def. Phoenix Sunnyslope, 73-71.
Class 4A Division II – Tucson Santa Rita def. Tucson Amphitheater, 86-84.
Class 3A – Goodyear Estrella Foothills def. Round Valley, 77-57.
Class 2A – Phoenix Scottsdale Christian def. Phoenix Westwind Prep, 52-47.
Class 1A – Gilbert Christian def. Phoenix Valley Lutheran, 51-34.