2A PRE-PRESEASON TOP TEN
1- Scottsdale Christian. The 2a will be down, way down, and SC will be as strong as the recent VC teams. What does that add up too? Undefeated against 2a teams. Maiden at PG, Rodgers at wing, and growing Nkem and Coble (who could stand 6-9 and 6-6 next year), give SC a 5a look. Fredericks, enter them in a REAL 5a tourney!!!
2- St Johns. The 2a will be highly competitive AFTER Scottsdale. St J returns enough to push for an AWA appearence. Guard Patterson (6-3), post Lindsey (6-1) should be bigtime players. They'll have plenty of height, and if Rothlisberger continues to grow (6-3, but brother was 6-6), he could be a big presence underneath.
3- Desert Christian. Will be down from this year, but everyone else will be down too. Right now they have two certainties, wing Janssen (6-2) and post Palmer (6-5). They will both be the best at their positions in their region. DC is a basketball power, and there is always underclassmen ready to step in.
4- Valley Christian. I may catch some flack here, but I really don't see too many teams that are too much better. VC will have two great guards in Roberts and Botma, and Mehlhorn (6-5) will be a terrific offensive player. Plus they had a solid JV. They will push for the #2 spot in the metro.
5- San Carlos. These guys could jump higher in my rankings. They return their three best players in Talgo, Lewis and Nosie. They return a 4th starter in Philips. Plus they'll be better by subtraction since Stiver can't start his son at PG anymore.
6- Baboquivari. If these guys could find a little depth and a solid big man, they could be legit contenders. Even if they don't, they will still be strong enough to make another run at AWA. They bring back their top three players in wing/post Juan (6-2), shooting guard Felix, and PG Mease. They'll again make it exciting, but probably will fall to taller teams. I hope that the basketball gods shine on them and deliver them a real center.
7- Phoenix Christian. Another team that may draw some surprise. I think that their backcourt of Burns and Schlueter will be the 2nd best in the metro (other than SC's). They will need to find a post to replace Robinson's scoring, but the metro will be down and two great performers will be enough to get a bid to state.
8- Thatcher. No more Johnson, Scroggins or Ruiz. I don't think Thatcher is dead, but this will be the weakest Thatcher team, on paper, that I have ever seen. If all suspended players are allowed to return, Thatcher will have post Schlicker (6-4), forward Nelson (6-1) and guards Smith and Innes vying for starting spots along with another, in a long line of Bryce's (Devin) and Nicholas, who's brother was an allstater 3 years ago.
9- Phoenix Country Day School. This is the first time PCDS has been ranked, and next year could be the first time PCDS makes the basketball playoffs. That includes their days in the 1a. While I won't go overboard as some are and annoint them the 2nd best team in the metro Mike Reinbold
10- Yuma Catholic. Look for these guys to surprise next year and improve greatly. They barely missed making state with a team full of sophs. Cuenn will be one of the 2a's very best, and they have another tall post (also around 6-3/6-4) to help inside. They will get a stiff challenge from Maricopa in the west.
Others- Bourgade (Pena and Furquan back) Maricopa (Garcia and Pratt back), NWCC,
2002-2003 Surprises: Duncan, who became one of the biggest surprises in the 2a. They are moving to the 1a however.
2002-2003 Disapointments: Miami. To say they underachieved would be a huge understatement. Numerous players remained from their last playoff berth two years ago. Anthony and Allen were great. Cormack and Reese very solid, and Casteneda and Turango both good roll players.
2003-2004: The Copper East will continue to be down as Thatcher declines. San Carlos should be able to take the region. Morenci will rebound, but still won't be as strong as previous squads. In the Copper West look for new teams to emmerge as contenders. Florence will continue to improve and could push for the playoffs. Hayden has about everyone back and will be in the playoff hunt again. Ray and Superior lose key guys, but since the region isn't that strong, will still be able to compete.
Region Seeds: #1 San Carlos, #2 Thatcher, #3 Hayden, #4 Florence/Morenci
2002-2003 Surprises: Baboquivari, who rebounded from a disapointing 2001-2002 year to finish 3rd in the Desert.
2002-2003 Disapointments: Tombstone. The perenial playoff squad had their worst season in more than eight years.
2003-2004: The Desert East was really pretty strong this past year (other than Tombstone). Teams that have finished near the bottom of the region recently (Benson and St Gregory) turned in good years and were in the playoff picture. I see a lot of decline in the some of the senior heavy teams like Bisbee, Benson, and Push Ridge. Desert Christian and Babo are givens, but with the decline the Desert West could actually get two teams in the playoffs instead of the required one. Those teams in the West that could knock of the East in regionals are Maricopa and Yuma Catholic, who should easily seperate themselves from the rest of the weak west.
Region Seeds: #1 Desert Christian, #2 Baboquivari, #3 Yuma Catholic, #4 Maricopa
2002-2003 Surprises: NWCC, who turned in their best year since joining the metro.
2002-2003 Disapointments: Phoenix Christian, who failed to make state for the first time in more than a decade.
2003-2004: The metro drops in talent, but still is clearly the class of the 2a. With less rural schools returning top flight talent, we could see another year with three metro teams at AWA. SC will go undefeated in the region. Realistically, no one has a chance at beating them. VC will be down, but Roberts, Botma and Mehlhorn will be enough to keep them in the top 5 in the 2a. PC, PCDS and Bourgade have the best chance at the final two playoff spots. NWCC and Az Lutheran will be left out.
Region Seeds: #1 SC, #2 VC, #3 PC, #4 PCDS
2002-2003 Surprises: Williams turned in a solid year, led by post Jenkins, and nearly made state for the first time in the 2a (since 1993).
2002-2003 Disapointments: The whole region. The North was swept under the rug at state. 0-4.
2003-2004: The North will be WORSE this year than they were last year. St Johns will be stronger, but the rest of the region will be much worse. Mayer loses Soriano (and whole team), Williams loses Jenkins (whole team), Valley Sanders loses Watchman and Francis, Pinon, Orme and Mogollon are moving either to the 3a or 1a. All that is left is one very good team (St J), a few potentially BAD teams (Mayer, Sanders, Red Mesa, Many Farms) and some potentially TERRIBLE teams (Williams, Rough Rock). The 1a North would absolutely destroy this bunch. Fredonia, Joe City, Seligman, and Grand Canyon would all be at least the 2nd best team in the region. Some one has to make state though.
Region Seeds: #1 St Johns, #2 Valley Sanders, #3 Red Mesa, #4 Mayer
Five to Watch at Each Position
1- Brain Roberts, Valley Christian
2- Tim Maiden, Scottsdale Christian
3- Geoff Burns, Phoenix Christian
4- Dustin Patterson, St Johns
5- Brian Smith, Hayden
1- Alex Rogers, Scottsdale Christian
2- Alex Janssen, Desert Christian
3- John Lewis, San Carlos
4- Jeff Juan, Baboquivari
5- David Mehlhorn, Valley Christian
1- Eric Cuenn, Yuma Catholic
2- Nkem Ojoubough, Scottsdale Christian
3- Kevin Coble, Scottsdale Christian
4- JJ Palmer, Desert Christian
5- Mike Reinbold, PCDS