A look at the top games, highlights and plays from high school boys and girls basketball for the week of Jan. 16-20:
Former Suns great and TNT NBA commentator Charles Barkley picked a great time to check out one of Aidyn Albright’s basketball games. Barkley, whose wife is the best friend to Albright’s mom, was able to fit Friday night into his schedule to attend Phoenix Horizon’s home game. Albright, a sharp-shooting sophomore, had 28 points and five 3-pointers. And Henry Walsh’s full-court pass to Gabe Zdrale for a layup in the final seconds won it, 89-87, against Gilbert Highland in a 6A Conference game. Earlier in the week, Albright broke his own school record of 11 3-pointers in a game with 12 in a 103-76 win. Walsh set a single-game school record with 20 assists in that game, He is now the school record holder for assists in a season.
Chandler Hamilton’s only girls basketball loss to an Arizona team was by a point in early December to Surprise Valley Vista. It won its sixth consecutive game Friday, beating visiting Phoenix Desert Vista 82-60. Every Arizona team Hamilton has beaten has been by double digits. Center Maya Banks led Friday’s game with 22 points and nine rebounds. The 6-foot-3 senior is averaging 13.2 points and 10 rebounds on a balanced team that could see a different leading scorer every night. “We have been getting better each week and really playing as a team on both ends of the court,” coach Trevor Neider said.
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Anthem Prep, a 1A school, has won only four boys games. But it possesses arguably the best player in the conference in 6-foot-8 junior Trey Wood, who underwent off-season shoulder surgery to put up these numbers: 24 points, 15.4 rebounds, 6.3 blocks per game. On Friday, in a 67-56 loss to Phoenix Valley Lutheran, Wood scored 42 of his team’s 56 points. He made 16 of 26 shots and 10 of 11 free throws. He also had 20 rebounds and eight blocks, committing just one foul.
In a big power-points game, Goodyear Millennium let rival Surprise Valley Vista know there is another big west-side girls basketball team in 6A. Millennium beat Valley Vista 59-52 that has the Tigers among the top four in the MaxPreps/AIA power-points rankings. Valley Vista is ranked third and Millennium fourth after the game. Millennium was able to overcome Taylor Chavez’s 25 points and four 3-pointers with great defense down the stretch.
Sierra Buena responded from a 57-50 loss to Marana Mountain View last week with two big wins this week, beating Vail Cienega (68-62) and Tucson Sahuaro (54-51). Buena appears to have righted itself after losing three of four games and has moved up to No.3 in the 5A Conference MaxPreps/AIA rankings, behind No. 1 Glendale Apollo and Phoenix Arcadia. Kino Bellinger had 15 points, including five 3-pointers, against Sahuaro. Grant Ward’s defense on standout Brendan Gary was key.
BALANCING ACT: Girls basketball teams win 72-0, 102-11 on same night
More than a week after shutting out San Tan Foothills, 72-0, Gilbert Leading Edge Academy’s girls team throttled Mesa Arete Prep 90-7 on Friday for its 20th win in its first year as an Arizona Interscholastic Association member. Four players scored in double figures with junior Halle Price leading with 20 points. One of LEA’s two losses this season was to 6A Gilbert Perry, 57-48, which was a break-through game that showed the charter school belonged in the AIA after winning five consecutive Canyon Athletic Association titles. “We lost the game by (nine) but the fact a small school with 300 kids got the opportunity to play a school with over 3,000 kids, to come close to winning that game, I felt that was jaw dropping, that this is where we belong,” said 6-2 junior Ariana Clavell, who is averaging 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds.