Each week, I’ll wind through the state, taking a look at top games, performances and noteworthy moments from the week.
High School Boys Basketball Rewind
With leading scorer Markus Howard (concussion) watching from the bench, Gilbert Perry snapped out of a early-game funk that put it in a 9-0 hole and defeated rival Chandler Basha 51-46 on Friday night inside a packed Perry gym in a Division I game. Basha was ranked No.3 after beating Perry 73-63 the previous week in the final of the Tempe McClintock Shootout. In that game, Howard, a sophomore guard who leads the state with 31 points a game, suffered concussion, and Basha lost 6-foot-10 junior forward Devin Kirby for the season to a gruesome injury that caused tibia fractures and knee replacements in both legs. Perry relied on tough defense this time around with guard Kyle Van Haren leading the way with 14 points, followed by Coby de Veaga’s 11 points. Van Haren’s 3-pointer with 3:43 left gave Perry its first lead in the game. Howard was cleared Monday to play in Tuesday’s showdown against second-ranked Phoenix Desert Vista.
Game recap: Perry shows it can win without Howard
WHAT WE LEARNED
Gilbert is a threat in Division I after closing out a tough overtime win at Mesa, 62-56, and Phoenix Central edging a quick and talented Phoenix Central team 48-45. A couple of weeks ago, Gilbert would have lost those games. But guard play, led by Nick Agostino, has improved. Turnovers have been cut in half. Entering the season, the point guard position was the biggest question mark at Gilbert. If that remains stabilized the rest of the season with Agostino’s deft ballhandling, Gilbert could pose a threat. It has the size with 6-8 senior Turman Moore a load in the middle and 6-7 junior Chris Bowling a good inside-outside player. Bowling leads the Tigers at 15 points a game.
Game recap: Gilbert handles Mesa’s pressure, wins in OT
MAKING A MOVE
Winslow moved into the Division III top-10 after an impressive 55-38 victory over last year’s state semifinalist, Tuba City. Winslow (11-3) has won eight in a row with a good mix of size and speed. This may be coach Ricky Greer’s biggest team with six players at least 6 feet 3. It beat 10-4 Whiteriver Alchesay earlier in the week, 71-65. The North teams are tough, and, if Winslow can get through Lakeside Blue Ridge and Snowflake, it is a legitimate contender for the state title.
UNDER THE RADAR
Tucson Cholla 5-10 senior point guard Jorge Carrasco is making a run for best player in Southern Arizona. He had a great week, scoring 27 points in a 116-57 win over Tucson Catalina and 27 in a 67-50 win over Casa Grande. Carrasco made a combined 18 of 23 shots and 14 assists in the two wins. Cholla came into the week 14-1, losing its only game to Division I top-10 Phoenix Central in the final of the Tucson Salpointe Tipoff Classic without Carrasco. Carrasco is one of the deadliest shooters in the state, making 17 of 37 3-pointers. He sees the floor really well and, as good a shooter he is, he also is very unselfish, making Cholla go. Cholla has scored at least 100 points twice in its past four games, and has scored more than 80 points in seven of its past nine games.
PHOTOS: BEST OF HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL 2014-15
Marvin Bagley (35) of the Corona del Sol Aztecs goes for a layup during a game against the Mustangs at North High School in Phoenix on Dec. 5, 2014.
ON THE RISE
Scottsdale Prep’s only loss to a Division IV team in the last two years was to Phoenix Arizona Lutheran in last year’s championship game. Its only lost three games this year, and those were against teams in higher divisions – Division II Paradise Valley, Division II Tucson, and Division I Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. It beat Division I Surprise Willow Canyon this season, and last week had its most impressive week against its peers, beating 2013 state champion Glendale Joy Christian 58-44 and then No.1 Phoenix Country Day 76-72 in overtime. Ben Arqueros, Nick Smith and Brock Petty have been the key to the Spartans’ rise to their No.1 ranking in Division IV.
AROUND THE STATE
-Elfrida Valley Union stretched its winning streak to 16 games with a 65-13 win over Academy of Tucson, outscoring its opponent 42-2 in the opening period. Arthur Cummings had 14 points to lead Valley Union, which hasn’t lost since its opener.
-Phoenix Cortez has won 10 in a row since a 1-2 start, fueled by the play of Trevan Newman (20.1 points a game) and Christian Hakilimali (21 points a game).
-Yuma Catholic has won nine in a row with Daniel Callendar getting nine points and 10 rebounds in an 81-46 rout of River Valley.
-Peoria Liberty erased a six-point deficit in the final 45 seconds to beat Phoenix Sunnyslope 51-49 and improve to 11-4, the best start in school history.
-Peoria Sunrise Mountain (15-1), having its best season, won its 13th consecutive game, beating Buckeye Verrado 63-51.
-Kenzo Nudo had 20 points, Brandon Hoffer 13, and Ryan Bayster 12 to lead Scottsdale Chaparral to a 63-45 Division I win over Laveen Betty Fairfax.