Boys basketball state tournament primer - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Boys basketball state tournament primer

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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 3:58 pm | Updated: 4:52 pm, Tue Feb 14, 2012.

While questions about the validity of the power points system have dominated the headlines recently, it's time to return the attention back to the games (at least temporarily).

Seedings are set, and the boys basketball state tournaments will be in full force by the end of the week.

Here's a look at what to expect in the next two weeks, which culminates with "Championship Saturday" on Feb. 25:


Division I

First-round matchups: No. 17 Boulder Creek at No. 16 Desert Mountain; No. 18 Dobson at No. 15 Hamilton; No. 19 Mountain Pointe at No. 14 Ironwood Ridge; No. 20 Cibola at No. 13 Lake Havasu; No. 21 Rincon at No. 12 Mountain View; No. 22 Chaparral at No. 11 Buena; No. 23 Perry at No. 10 North; No. 24 Cienega at No. 9 Brophy.

First-round byes: No. 1 Corona del Sol, No. 2 Pinnacle, No. 3 Red Mountain, No. 4 Gilbert, No. 5 Desert Vista, No. 6 Cesar Chavez, No. 7 Basha, No. 8 Westview.

When: Feb. 16 (first round), Feb. 18 (second round), Feb. 21 (quarterfinals), Feb. 23 (semifinals) and Feb. 25 (championship)

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; quarterfinals at Arizona State; semifinals and championship at Arena

Favorite: Corona del Sol

Contenders: Pinnacle, Mountain View, Desert Vista

Sleepers: Gilbert, Basha, Cesar Chavez, Red Mountain


Outlook: Corona del Sol has separated itself as the team to beat. The Aztecs have a strong backcourt behind Casey Benson and Calaen Robinson, and an impact frontcourt with Avery Moss and Andrus Peat. Add in a strong bench, and Corona is the the top seed and team to beat.

Pinnacle, behind the trio of Dorian Pickens, Drew Bender and Cody McDavis, has proven itself to be the top contender. The two teams are on opposite sides of the bracket, and the Pioneers have the easier road, as Desert Vista, Gilbert and Mountain View are all on the Aztecs' side. Corona would only face one of those teams, and it wouldn't be until the semifinals, so both teams get decent draws.

There seems to be quite a bit of parity beyond the top-2. Mountain View has shown flashes of being a contender, as has Desert Vista. However, no team has had the same prolonged success as Corona del Sol or Pinnacle in the regular season.

Lower-seeded teams like Dobson, Mountain Pointe and Hamilton could scare some of the top teams in the second round. In the end, this is Corona del Sol's tournament to lose, and some hot shooting by Pinnacle in the championship game may be the only way to stop the Aztecs.


Division II

First-round matchups: No. 17 Bradshaw Mountain at No. 16 Flagstaff; No. 18 Queen Creek at No. 15 Catalina Foothills; No. 19 Apollo at No. 14 Cactus Shadows; No. 20 Douglas at No. 13 Sunnyslope; No. 21 Youngker at No. 12 Poston Butte; No. 22 Tempe at No. 11 Coconino; No. 23 Casa Grande at No. 10 Nogales; No. 24 Thunderbird at No. 9 Saguaro.

First-round byes: No. 1 Arcadia, No. 2 Kellis, No. 3 Amphitheater, No. 4 Peoria, No. 5 Fairfax, No. 6 Sierra Linda, No. 7 Paradise Valley, No. 8 Salpointe Catholic.

When: Feb. 16 (first round), Feb. 18 (second round), Feb. 22 (quarterfinals), Feb. 23 (semifinals), Feb. 25 (championship)

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; quarterfinals at Arizona State University; semifinals at Grand Canyon University; championship at Arena

Favorite: Raymond Kellis

Contenders: Peoria, Betty H. Fairfax, Amphitheater, Arcadia

Sleepers: Saguaro, Paradise Valley, Nogales

Outlook: There is no clear-cut favorite in Division II. The four best teams are probably Kellis, Peoria, Fairfax and Amphitheater, but the team with the best draw is top-seeded Arcadia. Kellis features Arizona State commitment Kenny Martin, who is the most gifted senior big man in the state. Kellis has won nine straight games entering the tournament, including two close victories over Peoria.

The Panthers were No. 1 for the majority of the season and can compete with anyone. They are led by USC-commit Dewayne Russell. Amphitheater is a defending state champion (4A-II) and has Tim Derksen to lead the squad. Fairfax also won a state championship last year (5A-II) and has a big man, Stacy Davis, to anchor the team.

Arcadia was upset in the 4A-II quarterfinals a season ago, but Larry Lewis and Co. would like to make a deeper run this year. Nogales is also a defending champion and can't be counted out, while Saguaro and Paradise Valley have shown the potential to hang tough against the state's top teams. Kellis may be a slight favorite because its draw is better than Peoria's, but this tournament is hard to forecast.


Division III

First-round matchups: No. 17 Payson at No. 16 Safford; No. 18 St. Johns at No. 15 Valley Sanders; No. 19 Florence at No. 14 Valley Christian; No. 20 Tombstone at No. 13 Globe; No. 21 Pinon at No. 12 Rio Rico; No. 22 Scottsdale Christian at No. 11 Empire; No. 23 Tuba City at No. 10 Parker; No. 24 Camp Verde at No. 9 Valley Christian.

First-round byes: No. 1 Holbrook, No. 2 Gilbert Christian, No. 3 Snowflake, No. 4 Thatcher, No. 5 Window Rock, No. 6 Fountain Hills, No. 7 Alchesay, No. 8 North Pointe.

When: Feb. 14 (first round), Feb. 17 (second round), Feb. 20 (quarterfinals), Feb. 24 (semifinals), Feb. 25 (championship)

Where: First round at higher seed; second round at NAU Skydome (Flagstaff); quarterfinals at Tim's Toyota Center (Prescott Valley); semifinals and championship at Arena

Favorite: Gilbert Christian

Contender: Holbrook, Thatcher, Snowflake, Window Rock

Sleepers: Fountain Hills, Valley Christian

Outlook: Gilbert Christian moved up from 1A to Division III this season but has proven itself as the title favorite throughout the regular season. The Knights toughened themselves up by playing in tournaments against Division I schools, and have the best starting lineup in the division. Sam Jones, Roberto Reyes, Connor Patterson, Logan Fougnies and Dylan Bliss all take turns beating opponents, as Gilbert Christian's balance is tough to defend. The Knights have defeated Thatcher twice in the past two weeks, which has cemented their claim as the team to beat. Holbrook, Snowflake, Window Rock and Thatcher are the main contenders. The bracket works out nicely, as those are the top five seeds and four could end up in the semifinals.


Division IV

Second-round matchups: No. 17 Phoenix Christian at No. 1 Desert Christian; No. 9 Grand Canyon at No. 8 Pima; No. 12 Williams at No. 5 Canyon State; No. 20 Joseph City at No. 4 Arizona Lutheran; No. 14 Orme at No. 3 Duncan; No. 11 Yuma Catholic at No. 6 El Capitan; No. 23 Veritas Prep at No. 7 Valley Lutheran; No. 18 Joy Christian at No. 2 Phoenix Country Day.

When: Feb. 17 and 18 (second round), Feb. 23 (quarterfinals), Feb. 24 (semifinals), Feb. 25 (championship)

Where: All games at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott.

Favorite: Arizona Lutheran

Contender: Desert Christian, El Capitan, Phoenix Country Day

Sleepers: Orme School, Joy Christian


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[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]