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
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
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
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.
rallied strong and made the game close. This is a testament to their
tough, street ball mentality. These kids just won't quit!
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
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
*** 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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Stars Are Born! Gilbert League, Wednesday 6/2
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