Stars Are Born! Gilbert League, Wednesday 6/2

Clayton travels to Gilbert and brings you the 411 on the future stars...

When I received the Gilbert League schedule last week, I instantly focused in on the Wednesday night match up between Marcos de Niza and defending 5A state champion Mesa.  I was drooling over a Kal Bay-Travis LeBaron tussle.

Plus, Marcos has proven to be a perennially dangerous team, full of athletes, and a crazy dysfunction only a very gifted shrink could decipher.

The game lived up to expectations even though both squads were missing a key player or two.  Marcos' stud junior forward Mychael Broom was grounded by his mom and Mesa was missing seniors Travis LeBaron and Graham Hatch due to church camp commitments.

Mesa raced out to an early lead behind Jackrabbit forward Matt Komenda who carved up a sloppy Padre defense like a butcher.  Komenda continually got inside for kindergarten buckets.....it was embarrassing to watch if you were a Marcos fan.  Komenda bagged at least 20 points, maybe 25 on the night, most on lay ups.

Marcos, in it's first summer league game, looked absolutely pathetic, and I cant' emphasize this enough.  You could make a film on how NOT to play defense based on MdN's first half crapfest. (Mesa had played 4-5 games already this summer.)

But, coach Dave Stark rallied his troops and the Pads played much better in the 2nd half and overcame an 18-point deficit to bring the contest to within low single digits.

Kal Bay, the junior All-AZ point guard, went nutso in the 2nd half.  Bay is such a competitor you never should count his team out......even if they're comatose. Bay hit multiple 3-pointers and ended with 20+ points, maybe 30.

It wasn't all Bay as senior guard Justin Goolsby and senior forward Alex Cooper got in their licks too.  Even midget sophomore guard (5'2") Weylan Townes hit a trey.

The Pads rallied strong and made the game close.  This is a testament to their tough, street ball mentality.  These kids just won't quit!

But a last minute botched inbounds play by Marcos led to another Komenda score and the 'Rabbits went on to an 11 point victory.

Let me put a few new guys on the map.  This is the part I love about my hobby, finding new gems, polishing them up, and making them stars.

***  Mesa junior forward Geoff Garner is going to be a household name soon....like right now!  I spotted him last Friday night at the Mesa Tourney.  The burly beefcake Garner runs two bucks, 60 cents on a 6'4" frame.  If you want to quickly identify Garner, pick out the dude who looks like a PAC-10 football offensive tackle.

Geoff has nice footwork and a sweet shooting stroke.  Don't foul him late in the game.....he knocks down free throws like an expert marksman slaps clay pigeons on a shooting range.  Garner is going to be a huge contributor in the paint for two more years.  Get used to the abuse!

***  'Rabbit guard Bruce Delmet continues to impress.  He was every bit as effective as Mesa's missing players Wednesday night.  Delmet is a versatile senior guard who can run the point in a pinch but is better suited at off-guard.  Delmet is flat-out dangerous.

***  Jon Arnett, a senior forward is blue-collar defined.  A lunch pail dude who shows up every day for work, does his duty, and goes home to family....fulfilled by his work ethic.  For now, his 'Wabbit teammates are his family.

Mesa will be a preseason 5A Top Five team, I can tell this already.  And led by one of the state's finest coaches in Shawn Lynch, the team is a real threat to repeat.
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Second game: Red Mtn. vs. North

Both sleeper teams, maybe not anymore, particularly the North Mustangs.

Let's start with Red Mountain because I had such a nice chat with a couple Lion parents prior to and during the game.  Top notch folks!...great insight into a team I didn't see last season.

RM is recovering from a scandal that rocked the program late last season when four starters quit the team in a show of defiance against their coach.  From what I can discern from newspaper reports and conversations with those close to the program, the rebel senior players were completely out of line and so were the jackass parents who backed them.  Good riddance malcontents! Peace be with you....

Now, back to the task at hand, winning basketball games in perhaps the toughest region in all of AZ, the 5A East Valley.

Red Mountain returns only one starter in 6'2" senior forward Tanner Roberts so gaining experience is something that must come quickly this summer for the team to do much next year.  Thank goodness for the Power Point System put in place last season as it gives the Lions a chance to sneak in the back door to the playoffs.

***  Roberts is a very gifted athlete, a fine basketball player, excellent football player, and has a rocket arm that could enable him to take the mound for RM's baseball team too.

Roberts has chosen to focus on basketball but this may be a mistake.  He's has no collegiate future on the hardwoods at his height and position even though he's a really good player.

Tanner would be well advised to focus on the gridiron where his tremendous athleticism would flourish.  I can see him ripping heads off from his outside linebacker position.

Roberts has some talented teammates in junior forward Forest Pratt and sophomore Kellen Farr.  Farr is a young project but his 6'7" frame is something to build on.  I think Farr is going to be a special player once he gets more aggressive.

It's apparent the key to Red Mountain's success will be finding a legitimate point guard.  Seniors Ryan Ledbetter and Peter Colontoni are two of the top candidates.  Both will need to develop the assertiveness required to run the position effectively.

Red Mountain is well coached by Greg Sessions and the club could be a sleeper.  I'm certainly going to keep an eye on them.

Only had time for two games last evening and as I was leaving, I felt
somewhat disappointed in not being able to get more information on the North team that looked very impressive in their win over Red Mountain.  North is loaded with athletes, most of whom I'm not familiar with.  I couldn't find anyone to chat with about the team.

But, as I was about to step out the door several of the Mustang players appeared, finally released from their post-game meeting with the coach.

Who better to grab some info from than the players themselves?  I chatted briefly with one of my favorites Darren Six and fellow big men Cody Mitchell and Tremaine Townsend.  They gave me the names I was looking for.

Six, a senior forward, caught my attention in his sophomore year.  I fell in love with his rugged approach to the game and the fact he plays WAY bigger than his 6' frame suggests.  It's a dirty rotten shame this kid isn't 6-7 inches taller because he could play for any college program if he were.

Six, who wears number 6 on his jersey, has a complete game.  He can shoot from outside, handle the ball, pass, and rebound like a mutha'.  I strongly suggest you keep an eye on him if you get to watch North High play.  Kid is fun to watch.

Truth is, I spent so much time watching Six I didn't have enough time to focus on Mitchell and Townsend or guard Jimmy Scroggins.....all exceptional players.  I'll absolutely force myself to get to know these guys quickly.

Why? Because I think North can play with anybody...they have that much talent.  I've seen 20 teams play already this summer and North has struck a nerve with me.  This is a potential Final Four team.  I promise to bring you the low down on the Mustangs as I'm going to watch them at least 4-5 times this summer.

Futhermore, because the players were so nice to me, I might adopt this club as my favorite...and that means lots of pub.
Scott Clayton

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