Early Summer Statement Games in SoAZ
June 19, 2002
The summer is still young but I have noticed a few statement games in southern Arizona basketball in 5A and 4A. A few key games have already been played to establish who may be in competition for state play-off slots come February 2003.
Early on this summer most of the teams have stayed fairly close to home at least until the first part of July. Summer leagues at the Jewish Community Center, Flowing Wells and Santa Rita have most the teams in action then the June 7-9 U of A caught up with the rest.
If there was any doubt about who was the number #1 team through the end of June. The Salpointe Lancers laid that to rest when the crushed the Sahuaro Cougars in the Semi-Finals 51-25 of the U of A Tournament. Salpointe used their defense to limit the Cougars to less than 25% shooting from the field, their speed to turn the Cougars over 15 times until Coach Peabody showed mercy and put the subs in with 4 minutes to go. There was no doubt in anybody's mind at the game the Lancers wanted that game more – even more than the championship game where they just had enough energy left to beat Greenway 29-28. Top to bottom the Lancers got every loose ball and made every play the game using maximum effort because they wanted to show Sahuaro who was still #1 in Southern Arizona...case closed.
The Sahuaro Cougars looked to be a solid favorite to challenge Salpointe in the season, but they will have to regroup after shellacking Salpointe gave them, while the Tucson High Badgers, CDO Dorados, and Mountain View Lions all have closed the gap on the Cougars.
Most of the teams will have a shot at Salpointe and each other in the "JUST HOOPS" tournament in Gilbert starting around July 8th. The schedule will be posted when it becomes available.
In 4A early Spring and Summer battles have given the Marana Tigers the early edge as the number one team in Southern Arizona – no losses to any SOAZ 4A team yet. Coach Acker has a solid group of starters returning, but they will have a battle to keep Palo Verde and Cienega from closing the gap.
While there hasn't been the Sahauro vs Salpointe big statement games, however a few important skrimishes have already taken place.
Cienega has beaten Palo Verde twice in two meetings. Played competitively against Marana, Cholla, and most of the 5A teams except Salpointe. Coach Cross Bob Cat team went a respectable 2-2 over last weekend (June 14-16) at the BCI at Central edging Nogales and beating Central by 14, while losing to Trevor Browne by 4 and Millenium by 18. By the end of July which will probably see the Bob Cats as real contenders in the 4A Sonoran.
After going 4-23 Cholla has been a pleasant surprise so far hovering underneath the radar screen - I hope they can continue their improvement. Nogales is also improving and is playing lot of games in and out of Tucson. The Apaches have to travel to get the competition they need ... the Apaches have the work ethic to overcome a size disadvantage.
Palo Verde is playing well in the Flowing Wells summer league and not so well across town at Santa Rita. On Tuesday night (6/18/02) I went to see them against Salpointe. The Lancers won the game 62-42 but the Titans didn't back off a bit – while not having great height the Titans have a lot of very good leapers. The big guns Turner and Sherfield did well - Jarred Holman had some very good moves and should give the Titans some much needed offense. Even in the loss the Titans made a statement they will compete in the 4A Sonoran.
The rest of the teams are still playing up and down – the Rincon Rangers are starting to put it together behind Kyle Anderson, Chad Davis and Quentin Jimerson. Catalina Foothills is playing well for two or three quarters but the Falcons get wore down a little against the bigger teams in the fourth quarter – this is more apparent where they have to play more than one game in a day.
Some big games are coming up soon as both Santa Rita and Flowing Wells will soon begin their tournaments. Summer games may not count in the standings when the regular season starts but the lessons learned and experienced gained certainly will.
Santa Rita Varsity Summer League 2002
Jun 17, 2002
The Santa Rita Varsity League play opened up on May 27 and ends on June 24th. The single elimination tournament begins on June 26th and 28th. There are seven schools and eight teams participating and with 28 games played and 8 games remaining the records are :
Santa Rita 3 – 4
Tucson High 6 – 1
Palo Verde 2 – 5
Catalina 4 – 3
Sabino 3 – 4
Desert View 0 - 7
Sahuaro 6 – 1
Sahuaro #2 – 4 – 3
Santa Rita Eagles seems to be playing better than anyone would think with the loss of the two key players who they expected to lead the team this year. Devin Stewart and Robert Maultsby have stepped up and provided coach Ferguson with the leadership they need. The Eagles will still play a lot of tournaments this summer against tough competition and I expect the Eagles to sneak up on a few very good teams before next season is over and done.
Tucson High with a 6-1 record and the recent solid play at the U of A tournament is a testament to the Badgers hard work and some great coaching by Gary Lewis. Their only loss so far was to Sahuaro's Alex Rancier buzzer beater 47-45. Corey Norwood, Omari Bowens, Lannon Ware, Joe Kay and Marsharene Flannigan provide the Badgers with a good nucleaus they can build on during the summer. Corey Norwood and Joe Kay are underestimated and their roles have been important to Tucson's good showing so far this summer. Lannon Ware is a tough match-up in the post and can give the Badgers 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Palo Verde's record at Santa Rita 2-5 is off in comparison to their 4-1 record across town at Flowing Wells. In spite of their poor record at Santa Rita Palo Verde looks to be ahead of schedule and playing some pretty good basketball – height is the usual strength for the Titians and ball handling is the usual weakness, but this year it looks to be the reverse with better ball handling and less height. Coach Gin still may get some height because Davis-Monthan is a feeder school and the military usually start their moves around this time of year.
Catalina – Their Santa Rita record is about the same as last year's season record of 500. Chuck Cole, Jack Holland and Mike Johnson are playing well. They haven't been beaten by any bad teams (Sahuaro twice and Tucson once) who are two pretty 5A teams who they don't have to play during the year (4A Kino). They aren't a big team but when they execute they can be pretty tough to beat.
Sabino – The same guys and coach from last year's 3-21 team are playing pretty well and they certainly will win their fair share this year. They shoot well and are starting to take care of the ball better in their half-court offense. They still are vulnerable to the press but with everybody pressing them they should get better. Dickens, Thomas, and Biggs are looking pretty good. Brad Wood should be a major factor in the Sabercats much improved record next year.
Desert View – One of the players mentioned the team hasn't been practicing and the 0 – 7 record probably indicates they need to play some more. The Jaguars aren't as bad as the record would make you think - the players are competitive especially Michael Martin and Steven Degan. Martin is still growing is only a sophomore and is already a competitor and just needs to play some games before we find out how good he really is. Degan play doesn't show any fear and he gives the Jaguars a big lift when he is on the floor. The Jaguars may get some important game experience later this summer at ASU (June 24).
Sahuaro – Great record 6-1 with the only loss to their #2 team. A deeper and more experienced team than last year. They seem to be able to beat everyone, but the Salpointe Lancers so far this summer. Three really good guards in Alex Rancier, Jorge Valenzuela, and Chad Hill. Valenzuela is perpetual motion on offense and defense and picks up steals by the half-dozen on a regular basis. Rancier and Hill run the club – Rancier is a little better defensive player and slasher, Hill handles the ball a little better and can get to the hoop anytime he wants and does a good job feeding the post. The offensive threat in the post is Ryan Loverin. Ryan has some of the best post moves you will see from a High school player and has a great left hand. The other post player is the Cougar's "X" factor is Brian Notheis – is a strong, quick, fearless and 6'7" and can jump with the best of them, he just needs more experience. J.J Hilling maybe Sahuaro's best player who at 6'4" has the quickness and a nice 12-15 foot jump shot. J.J. usually draws the best defender – only his slender frame is holding him back against the big physical players. J.J. regularly scores 18 points, grabs 7-10 rebounds and is above average shot blocker – look for him to be playing after High school.
Thanks to coach Ferguson for his help.
Flowing Wells Summer League 2002
Jun 13, 2002
After 74 games the 2002 Flowing Wells Summer League is about at the halfway point with 66 games left to play before the July 1st tournament begins. The teams are slowly starting to develop some chemistry and some familiar trends are emerging. The records listed alphabetically are:
Amphi – two teams combined record of 8-2
Catalina Foothills – two teams combined record of 6-4
Cholla – 3-2
Cienenga – 3-3
Coolidge – two teams combined record of 5-6
Coolidge JV – 0-4
Desert Christian – 4-1
Salpointe – 5-1
Flowing Wells – two teams combined record of 1-10
Ironwood Ridge – 1-3
Marana – 5-0
Mountain View – two teams combined record of 8-2
Mountain View JV – 4-2
Palo Verde – 4-1
Pueblo – 1-4
Pusch Ridge – 3-2
Rincon – two teams combined record of 4 -5
Sahuarita – two teams combined record 1-9
Games are every Tuesday and Thursday until the July 1st. The action starts at 3:00 pm and the last game begins at 9:00 pm.
Some pretty good match-ups on Tuesday June 18th will be Amphi vs Marana 5:00 pm, Cholla vs Cienega 6:00 pm, Palo Verde vs Salpointe 7:00 pm, Sahuaro vs Mountain View 8:00 pm.
I would like to thank Celia Ayers and Bob from Flowing Wells for their help.
U of A June 7-9 Comments
Jun 12, 2002
Teams, players and Coaches
I will qualify my comments by first stating that some of the players or teams I have mentioning may be having the best or worst games they have ever had, but they deserve mentioning.
The CDO has been out of Tucson most of the summer so far and even the coach Saintigon was absent the smallish Dorados play a tough and attacking game. Aaron Crowley is a strong finisher with a couple of two handed flushes.
Greenway has some height and has won two games convincingly, but against much smaller opponents - their first test comes against Mountain View Saturday morning.
Mountain View's Scott Lackey is back playing basketball and he is making a huge positive impact for the Lions.
Pardise Valley's Calvin Cheatwood had a couple of nice dunks and a couple of ugly layups... go with the dunks Calvin.
2A Desert Christian came within 2 seconds of beating the once 5A power house Dobson. Only a desperation 3 pointer saved Dobson. Desert Christian's Adam Parker was easily the best player from either team on the floor.
Sahuaro's J.J Hilling is starting to play better with 35 points, 18 rebounds and 6 blocks in two games. J.J. is much quicker to the ball than he was earlier in the summer.
Trevor Browne didn't have any player, coach, parent meltdowns tonight like they had last year at Salpointe. They played solid and hard from start to finish in both games tonight. Their trapping full court defense works fine against slower teams or teams with weak ball handlers but it gives the opposition too many lay-ups.
On Friday night I saw a guard from Coronado (Texas) named Ryan Condie. Ryan shot some extremely difficult jump shots from all angles, shaking two and three defenders at a time before draining the shots. At first I thought he was lucky, after four or five shots I thought he was hot, but after seven or eight shots...he was just very very good...looks can be deceiving.
The team from Greenway under Howard Mueller(?) is having a nice tournament run (4-0 in Pool C). Ben Buchanan runs the club extremely well - he drives and finishes, he has range on his shot, makes nice passes and see the floor well. Two of the taller players Adam Sosa and Vince Scott are really playing well together. Sosa is setting-up Scott nicely and their height makes them difficult to defend.
Mountain View is starting to play some good basketball since Scott Lackey is back. They are 3-1 in the tournament and the loss occurred without Scott.
The El Paso Tigers - a good name for this team. They are 4-0 so far in Pool B. Jeremy Biggs is the hammer on this team, Johnathan Dudley handles the scoring, and Christian Valenzuela provides the hustle. The coach is vocal and he and his team should be named the
Grand Canyon State Games June 1-2, 2002
Jun 12, 2002
The boys 15-17 Grand Canyon tournament kicked off June 1st at Flowing Wells.
In the first game the Tucson Heat edge out the Komatke Kings 59-48 behind Jason Adams (11 pts), Skylar Cook 10 pts, and Maurice Wells & Matt Muldihill 8 pts each.
The second game had the Glendale Catcus team (Cobra Hoops) taking on the Tempe Desert Kings. The Cactus team used their size advantage and toughness to outdistance the Desert Kings 45-40. Joe Delisa and Brian Stokes played particularly well leading their club.
The 3rd game had the Arizona Stars playing the Tucson Heat. The Stars used the excellent outside shooting of James McCasko and the inside play of Michael Butler to defeat the Heat 63-48. The Heat once again got a great play from Skylar Cook (14 pts), Alex Jansen 12 pts and Watson McCoy 11 pts.
The 4th game was heated contest between the Cactus Cobras and the Arizona Stars. The refs had to stop the game a couple of times to cool the players off and the games wasn't decide until the very end when the stars behind McCasko and Butler were able to pull away 59-50.
The 5th game had the Deset Kings beating the Komaltke Kings.
The 6th game had the Tucson Heat playing the Desert Kings in the consolation bracket for the right to play the Catcus Cobras on Sunday (double elimination tourney). The Tucson Heat had trouble pulling away from the fiesty Kings until the 2nd half. Guards Skylar Cook and Alex Jansen once again led the Heat with 14 and 10 points respectively. Watson McCoy kept the Heat going with key steals and added 9 points.
Sundays action has the Tucson Heat playing the Cactus Cobras at 10 a.m. with the winner playing the AZ Stars from the Championship at HIGH NOON
Grand Canyon Semi & Finals – June 2, 2002
The semi-finals of the Grand Canyon tournament was held at Flowing Wells between the Cactus Cobra Hoops team under Mike Scholtz and the Tucson Heat under Jason Stewart.
The Cobras were led by soon to be senior Joe Delisa. The game was tight in the first half with the Cobras getting major contributions from Brian Stokes, Kevin Marin and Mike Phillips but the Heat took a 24 -20 1st half lead behind Alex Jansen and Chris Cook. The Cobras were unable to get their inside game going and relied heavily on the perimeter shots which stopped falling late in the 2nd half to let the Heat move the lead out and take a comfortable win 52-40. The Heat's big guns in this game were Alex Jansen 14 points and 9 rebounds and 4 blocks and Chris Cook 17 points and 13 rebounds. Mike Phillips had 13 points and Kevin Marin had 9 points for the Cobras.
The Heat played the Arizona Stars for the championship game. The Stars had beaten the Heat soundly yesterday 63-48 behind James McCasko and Michael Butler. The Heat played much sharper in the championship game and had Chris Cook who was absent in the first game. The Stars were not chancing anything and added Tucson High's Lannon Ware for this game.
Despite their earlier easy victory and Lannon Ware the Heat took a 24-22 lead behind the outstanding guard play of Skylar Cook. The Stars had no answer for Skylar Cook who had 22 points with only one missed field goal and free throw attempt all day. The game seemed to be over when the Heat's Alex Jansen began to catch fire after a slow first half - Jansen finished with 17 points.
The Stars seem to be self-destructing after a couple of technical fouls but the Heat allowed the Stars to stay within 6-8 points by rushing shots.
The Stars pulled within 3 points with 16 seconds to play, but missed a three pointer. The Heat rebounded the ball, however the pass to the guard bounced on the out of bound line with 9 seconds to play. The Stars in-bounded the ball to big man Michael Butler who coolly hit a 3 pointer to tie the game as time ran out. The Heat were never behind from tip off to the expiration of regular time.
In overtime the Stars pounded the offensive boards behind Lannon Ware and scored 9 straight points to beat the Heat 71-62. Leading scorers for the Stars were Lannon Ware 19 points, Michael Butler 13 pts, and James McCasko 16 points. Skylar Cook led the Heat with 19 points, Alex Jansen 17 points, and Chris Cook 10 points and 9 rebounds.
A several of observations. 1st - If Coach Gary Lewis from Tucson High can get Michael Butler and the troubled Lannon Ware on the floor at the same time they can give most teams all they can handle in 5A. 2nd Skylar Cook is an outstanding point guard on both ends of the floor and Alex Jansen is also an excellent two guard, but since both play on 2A teams most people won't see how good these guys are unless you come to a Heat game. 3rd - Chris Cook (Heat & Sahuaro) makes the guys he plays with much better anytime he is on the floor.