JTL's 2A Preview

#1 Valley Christian Strengths- Tim Kruge. Where else would I start? The 6-8 senior is the best 2a post player in over a decade. 25ppg and 15rpg are very attainable, that's unless VC is winning so many blowouts that he gets only a half to put up his stats. PG Hardiman (6-0), is in my opinion, the most well rounded PG in the 2a. He is a great ball handler, passer and defender, but what really seperates him from the rest is his ability to shoot from ...

#1 Valley Christian
Strengths- Tim Kruge. Where else would I start? The 6-8 senior is the best 2a post player in over a decade. 25ppg and 15rpg are very attainable, that's unless VC is winning so many blowouts that he gets only a half to put up his stats. PG Hardiman (6-0), is in my opinion, the most well rounded PG in the 2a. He is a great ball handler, passer and defender, but what really seperates him from the rest is his ability to shoot from the outside. His leadership skills have also improved 100% over the past few seasons. VC still has their signature depth. Outside shooter like Roberts and Thelan, to go along with plenty of height; 6-5 Krupnik, 6-4 Majesty, 6-3 Hill and 6-2 Orr. That's not to mention the transfers that played for them over the summer!
Weeknesses- Will have to replace some serious outside threats in Brown and Hannenburg. On paper, they have the guys to do it, but they will have to produce. In a worse case serenio no one fills the outside scoring void left by Brown/Hannenburg and SC or someone upsets them in the state championship game.
Outlook- Repeat champs. Would be a top ten 4a squad and a 5a playoff squad.  
#2 Scottsdale Christian
Strengths- Return almost everyone from last years state runner up. Most years would be the consensus #1 entering the season. On paper, the best SC team since their first title winner in 99'. Best ball handling backcourt in the 2a, bar none. Maiden and Sazdanoff are both terrific PG's. Wing Rogers (6-4), could be poised for a breakout year. Could prove to be the best all-around player in the 2a. Wooster (6-5) and Ojoughbo (6-6) could give SC what they lacked last year- height. 6-2 Herrod is unheralded, but after watching him play football, is one of the better athletes in the Metro.
Weeknesses- Will need someone to step up inside as posts may still be too young to have an impact. Although Sazdanoff and Maiden are great defensively and with the ball, neither are scorers and SC will need to find someone to compliment Rogers.
Outlook- Great club. Have all the elements to be a title winners (most years). Could be SC's 2nd best club ever, but still not win a title behind powerfull VC.
#3 Tucson Desert Christian
Strengths- Has the tallest twins towers in the 2a with 6-9 Stainsby and 6-4 Perkins. Stainsby continues to improve and could finally become a presence this year. Perkins could become a star. Guard Parker (6-1) has a great all around game, and is a premier defender and outside shooter. Jansen (6-1) also has a solid all around game and can do a little of everything. Palmer (6-5) is rated as one of the best incoming Frosh in the entire state.
Weeknesses- As of now, has no PG. Needs to fill the void with someone who can get Parker open looks on the perimeter as well as Perkins in the post. Stainsby proved to be a liability against SC last year in the playoffs. He needs to use his height to create missmatches instead.
Outlook- Should be better than last years squad, and better than the squad that won the title two years ago. If Stainsby improves dramatically, he could create a title showdown against Kruge and VC.
#4 St Johns
Strengths- Height and depth. The Redskins have both. While they have no "Metro-sized" towers, 6-4 post Adam Patterson is one of the best in the 2a. 6-2 Nielsen (TE in football), is an athletic forward/post that plays bigger than his height. Dustin Patterson (6-3), will be one of the taller guards in the 2a. Madrid (6-3) and Holowell (6-2) both provide extra height.
Weeknesses- Will be tough, agressive, and athletic inside, but needs to come up with a scoring threat in the backcourt. Will have consistent height throughout the lineup, but taller posts will create matchup problems.
Outlook- Should easily distance themselves from the rest of the 2a North. Could find themselves playing at AWA.
#5 Thatcher
Strengths- Great starting five, including two of the 2a's top athletes in wing Johnson (6-1) and post Scroggins (6-3). PG Ruiz should be rock solid and post Daley (6-6) gives a defense presense inside the paint. Thatcher has great coaching and tradition, plus the intimidation and confidence factor that they are the top athletic program in the 2a.
Weeknesses- Depleted depth. Is the end near for the Eagles? This could be their last contending basketball team for the next few years. There doesn't seem to be outside shooters in the lineup or bench, their two best scorers (Johnson & Scroggins) will be more slashing types. A team that packs in a good zone defense with height (VC, SC, DC) could completely shut down their offense.
Outlook- Still the favorite to win the Copper. Has faltered in football, but still has enough basketball players to match last years season. Will be pressed to reach AWA.
#6 Bourgade
Strengths- The return of all 2a PG Bellamy has Bourgade looking the best they have since Saucedo ran point back in the mid 90s. Last year Santana (5-11) stepped into Bellamy's spot and Bourgade finished 3rd in the metro. Both will start in the backcourt, and don't be surprised if Bourgade runs a three guard lineup with either Pena (6-0) or Villa (5-11) starting too. Post Canez (6-3, 280), may not have the height as some of his metro counterparts, but none have his mass or strength. Furquan (6-2) is athletic enough to win the other post spot, but is very limited on offense.
Weeknesses- Despite having potentially three little guards starting, there is not much shooters. Post players are very limited offensively. Not much height on the bench.
Outlook- Could win potentially ANY other 2a region, but will finish a distant third in the awesome metro. Look for these guys to make a run in the playoffs. Outside shot at AWA.
#7 Phoenix Christian
Strengths- Has been one of the top 2a basketball programs with great tradition. Will field an athletic lineup, with height throughout. Robinson (6-5) is coming off injury, and will finally have a shot at proving himself as one of the 2a's best. Bevans (6-3), Daye (6-3), and Kuiper (6-2) will play the post. All are tough, physical and athletic. The starting backcourt will consist of two heralded guards that need to produce in Burns (6-0) and Schleuter (6-1).
Weeknesses- While posts will battle hard, they like the height of some of their metro counterparts. Not many dependable scorers out there, and even less shooters. Defense will keep them in games, but could find themselves on the wrong end of 35-29 type scores.
Outlook- If one of the young guards steps up the scoring, these guys could be tough. Will fight for their playoff lives, but should give any of the #1 seeds a good game in the playoffs 1st round.
#8 Mayer
Strengths- Soriano (6-6), like Kruge, is one of the best 2a posts in recent memory. He is the returning 2a North Player of the Year. He has a solid counterpart in fellow post McRoberts (6-3), who won't score much, but is a great rebounder and good defensively. Little soph Conway, averaged about 25ppg on the JV last year, and is supposed to be the next big star in Mayer.
Weeknesses- No depth on the bench, nor the starting five. With only three starting spots filled with sure bets, Mayer will really scramble to find players capable of bringing them back to AWA. Passmore (6-1) should get one of the spots, and he has looked like a better athlete during football, but I'm still not sold on him as a basketball player. The last starting spot is a complete mystery. Also it appears that the game is passing coach Medina by. His teams have looked lost and poorly prepared during the past two postseasons.
Outlook- As long as Soriano is around, Mayer has a shot. They will need to find someone new to take some of the scoring burden off of him, or it will be a 1st round playoff exit.
#9 San Carlos
Strengths- The explosive duo of Lewis (6-0) and Talgo (5-11) should be good for 40-45 ppg every game. Return eight varsity players and will have an extremely strong junior class this year. Both Talgo and Lewis are juniors, along with four other junior returnees. Next year they could make a title run, but this year they will have to settle for the Copper's #2 or #3 spot. 
Weeknesses- The worst low post of any of the ranked teams. How bad is it? How about a 5-10 center? Posts will be the aformentioned Cassa and the coaches son, the 6-1 (and rail thin) Stiver. All anyone with posts 6-3 or taller will have to do is slow the tempo and get the ball inside every time down. San Carlos will have no answer.
Outlook- These guys will full court press, run the fast break, shoot lots of threes, and create general havoc. If they create enough, they will land the Copper's #2 seed and be a fun team to watch at state.
#10 Miami
Strengths- Miami's best team since moving down from the 3a. Could be the first Miami team to win a playoff game in a while. Brings back five players that played on the last Miami team to make the playoffs two years ago. Posts Allen (6-3) and Cormack (6-2) finally give Miami some height inside. Guard Anthony has been an all region pick since his frosh year. Castaneda (5-9) and Tarango (5-10) could figure in the starting lineup.
Weeknesses- Not a whole lot of speed or quickness. Needs a post to step up offensively. Needs scoring in general to take the burden off Anthony.
Outlook- Should be better than the 2000 Miami team that made the playoffs. Will get either the 3rd or 4th Copper seed, but unfortunately, will get bounced at first round of state.
1st team
Guard- Hardiman, 6-0, Valley Christian
Guard- Encinas, 5-11, Bisbee
Wing- Rogers, 6-4, Scottsdale Christian
Post- Kruge, 6-8, Valley Christian
Post- Soriano, 6-6, Mayer
2nd team
Guard- Bellamy, 6-0, Bourgade
Guard- Archuleta, 5-10, Kearny Ray
Wing- Lewis, 6-0, San Carlos
Post- Patterson, 6-4, St Johns
Post- Watchman, 6-4, Valley Sanders 
Region Rankings (based on potential playoff teams)
1- Thatcher
2- San Carlos
3- Miami
4- Superior
5- Duncan
6- Ray
7- Morenci
(just like football, alot of teams will factor in playoff picture)
1- Desert Christian
2- Bisbee
3- Tombstone
4- Baboquivari
5- Pusch Ridge Christian
6- St Gregory
7- Benson
8- Welton Antelope (will get west league's auto-bid however)
1- Valley Christia
2- Scottsdale Christian
3- Phoenix Christian
4- Bourgade
6- Az Lutheran
1- St Johns
2- Mayer
3- Valley Sanders
4- Orme
5- Pinon
6- Red Mesa

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