It takes talent, a little luck and great defense to make a run in a win-or-go-home tournament.
Avondale Westview will see if it all comes together in the Division I boys basketball tournament.
It began at home Feb. 20 with a tough opener, playing Phoenix St. Mary’s, a team it needed overtime to beat late in the regular season. Westview defeated St. Mary’s 58-49 to advance to Saturday’s second round to take on No. 7 seed Chandler Hamilton.
Westview did a great job under a new coach, Brendan McEvoy, just to win 21 games.
McEvoy, a former assistant under Joe Babinski at Goodyear Desert Edge, has gotten the most out of a squad that features three essential components to win games: a skilled big man in 6-foot-8 Andre Adams, a dynamic scorer in guard Isaiah Bellamy and a tough defender in point guard Kendall Barnes.
The other players filled the gaps nicely, buying into McEvoy’s team ball.
“We’ve had balanced scoring,” McEvoy said. “Kendall, lately, his defense has been great.
“It takes all of these guys to make a run.”
Bellamy led Westview in scoring with 14 points a game. Adams wasn’t far behind at 12. Bellamy and Adams each averaged about six rebounds.
Barnes has averaged nine points and two assists.
McEvoy spent one season as interim head coach at Desert Edge, where he led the team last year to a 19-10 record and into the Division II quarterfinals.
McEvoy knew he was basically on a one-year rehearsal. He showed he was head coaching material.
After Desert Edge opted to bring in former Anthem Boulder Creek coach Randy Walker, Westview jumped on McEvoy, who learned under Babinski, who has more than 600 victories as a high-school coach in his career.
McEvoy was an assistant at Desert Edge in 2008 when it won the Class 4A Division II championship, going 28-2.
Westview opened the season with losses to Tempe Corona del Sol and Scottsdale Chaparral, two of the more physical teams in the state. Corona del Sol captured the top seed in Division I with a 29-1 record and winning its super sectional.
Those early losses helped Westview, which won eight in a row and 15 of 16.
The 62-61 overtime loss to Gilbert Perry in the first round of the super sectional kept Westview from getting a first-round tournament bye.
But after Perry then beat Phoenix Central by one and losing only by a point to Corona del Sol, it showed Westview that this tournament could be anybody’s for the taking.
Westview appeared to have the game in hand in overtime, but a turnover set up freshman guard Markus Howard’s game-winning drive for Perry.
That kind of turnover could hurt a team less mentally tough. But McEvoy said his players responded well in practice the next day.
“Our kids have come together,” he said.