Watching and waiting is Gilbert boys hoops' game - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Watching and waiting is Gilbert boys hoops' game

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 12:22 pm | Updated: 1:16 pm, Thu Feb 20, 2014.

Even during this time of year when everyone would love a few extra practices, there are only so many drills and intra-squad scrimmages to get through before the stale settles in.

So with 14 days to kill - yes, Gilbert's boys basketball team will have finished a two-week "break" since a Feb. 7 win over Desert Ridge before it plays again in the second round of the Division I state tournament on Saturday against either No. 22 Carl Hayden or No. 11 Chaparral - the Tigers instead played "tourists" for a day.

Earlier this week, they watched "Miracle," the 2004 movie about the "Miracle on Ice" in the 1980 Olympics. The team climbed Camelback Mountain - which several kids had never done before - and ate at Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles.

The head-scratching part of this to coach Jay Caserio, is how a team that finished No. 3 in the power rankings misses out of the Super Sectional tournament. Not playing sent Gilbert down to No. 6 in the state tournament seeding.

He knows why: In Division I, the top four teams in each section (based purely on a team's sectional W-L record) played in the Super Sectional, but Gilbert finished fifth in its section behind Corona del Sol, Hamilton, Highland and Perry.

So the Tigers got a couple kids who needed injuries to heal a chance to do so, and while the Tigers have plenty of state tournament experience in recent years, the wildcard remains as to whether a two-week hiatus will work out or backfire when it comes to state tournament-level competition and intensity.

Gilbert (20-6) lost to St. John Bosco (Calif.) in the VisitMesa.com tournament in late December, was blown out by Corona del Sol and Shadow Mountain, and lost to Highland, Perry, and Jefferson (N.Y.) all by seven points or fewer.

The silver lining in Caserio's mind being the Tigers grew offensively after a sluggish start to the season, rather than seasons past where they played well offensively out of the gate, but plateau shortly thereafter without seeing significant improvement the rest of the way.

Gilbert has one of the best point guards in three-year starter Anthony Bryant, and lots of size with Truman Moore, Spencer Nicolds and sophomore Wyatt Lowell.

"If you want to play your best basketball at end of year and we’re doing that right now," Caserio said.

Perhaps, but after two weeks, who remembers anymore? The Tigers, for one, but given the gauntlet that awaits on the bottom half of the Division I bracket (the top half isn't a picnic either), the team won't have many minutes to spare to find their game again.

"Numbers don’t mean a whole lot anymore," he said. "A lot of teams are really really close to each other."

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