Boys Basketball Season Preview - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Boys Basketball Season Preview

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Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:04 pm | Updated: 3:54 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The boys basketball regular season is under way. West Valley Preps asked local coaches questions about their 2010-11 teams. Here are their answers:

CACTUS COBRAS

COACH: Roger Lefevre (1st year at school).

DIVISION/REGION: 4A-II Black Canyon.

2009-10 RECORD: 1-21, 1-9 region.

TOP RETURNEES: Brandon Mitchell, Jr., PG (9.1 ppg), Anthony Bursey Jr., C (6.8 ppg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? Six years as varsity head coach at Tolleson, six years as assistant at Grand Canyon University.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? They have nothing to lose. They have tremendous attitudes, work ethic, are in great shape, and have bought in to our system.  We are quick and we will utilize that attribute to the fullest.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success?  Decision making at the speed we want to play.

4. Who are your team leaders? Brandon Mitchell, Daniel Ronn, Anthony Bursey.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Well, they are all newcomers to me and me to them.  Our relationships that have been build from this summer, pre-season conditioning, and from this pre-season will take us a long way.  I think each member will make an impact in their individual role.  When each piece of the puzzle is placed in the position in which it fits, success will be imminent. 

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? These young men must do what we do.  This is a new system and concept for them and they must completely buy in from day one through the end of the season, even when things are not going exactly their way.  They must realize that teams do not practice or play the way we do and because of this fact teams will have to adapt to us.  We must be consistent and follow what we know.

CENTENNIAL COYOTES

COACH: Michael Gahan (1st year as head coach).

DIVISION/REGION: 5A-II Desert West.

2009-10 RECORD: 3-21, 1-11 region.

TOP RETURNEES: Ed Mora, Sr., SG (4.7 ppg), Richard Palmer, Jr., PF (4.2 ppg, 4 rpg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? This is my first year as the varsity boys’ basketball coach.  I spent the previous two seasons coaching the JV team.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? The team’s best attribute is our work ethic.  Our motto all off-season has been “get better every day,” and the players have really embodied that philosophy.  Combined with their high basketball IQ, the team is executing at a much higher, more efficient level. 

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? For the season to be a success we will need to improve on our free throw shooting, especially late in games.

4. Who are your team leaders? Ed Mora is our lone senior.  We’re relying on him to lead by example on both ends of the floor.  Richard Palmer (junior) is our only other returning varsity player.  He has taken the role of vocal leader on the team and will be relied upon to provide a lot of the scoring and rebounding for the squad.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? We have almost a brand new team this year.  We have high hopes for our junior class to make an impact, including guards Matt Baylon, Jordan Strother and Jesse Walberer and forwards Ricky Winne, Tre Calmese and Marquis Bentley-Thomas.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? In order for our squad to reach the state tournament this season we need to be efficient on both ends of the floor, limiting turnovers and playing solid defense.  If we continue to get better each and every day we will be in the running come February.

DEER VALLEY SKYHAWKS

COACH: Jed Dunn (3rd year at Deer Valley)

DIVISION/REGION: 5A-II Northwest.

2009-10 RECORD: 14-12, 8-6 region. Lost to Boulder Creek in first round of 5A-II playoffs.

TOP RETURNEES: Tre Ogles, Jr., SF (9.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Darius Watkins, Sr., SG (8.3 ppg, 2.3 apg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? I am in my 18th year as a head boys basketball coach. I spent my first 12 years in Ohio coaching basketball.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have a fast team this year and a deep team this year.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? To be successful we will need to continue to strive to be great citizens on and off of the floor. We always want to play hard and act right which to me leads to good things.

4. Who are your team leaders? Everyone within the program is expected to be leaders.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Connor Cotterman and Taylor Hayes

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? We need to win a lot of our games and hope everyone else loses a lot of theirs! (Its true though).

DYSART DEMONS

COACH: John Helmsley (1st year).

DIVISION/REGION: 4A-I West Valley.

2009-10 RECORD: 21-7, 9-3 region. Lost to Sunnyslope in 4A-I semifinals.

TOP RETURNEES: Pierre Jones, Sr., SG, (13.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Alex Brown, Sr., F, (5.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? 11 years. This will be my seventh year on the staff at Dysart.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Work ethic.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Increase free throws made from last season. Our goal is to make every free throw we shoot. Box out — put a body on your opponent every time a shot goes up.

4. Who are your team leaders? We have three team captains — seniors Pierre Jones, Anthony Anderson, and Alex Brown.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? David Allen, Kevin Krzyzartaniak, Diquan Hubbard, and Dustin Kramer.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? Have fun, make free throws and put a body on our opponent on every shot.

IRONWOOD EAGLES

COACH: Todd Hanson (9th year at Ironwood)

DIVISION/REGION: 5A-II Desert West.

2009-10 RECORD: 16-12, 7-5 region. Lost to Tolleson in the first round of the 5A-II playoffs.

TOP RETURNEES: DeVonte Mason, Sr., 5-10 PG (14.5 ppg, 5 apg), Alex Johnson, Sr., 6-1 SG (19.6 ppg, 5 rpg)

Editor’s note: The coach did not respond to the questionnaire.

JOY CHRISTIAN EAGLES

COACH: Robert Heinge (1st year at school)

DIVISION/REGION: 1A West.

2009-10 RECORD: 9-8, 3-5 region. Lost to Tucson St. Gregory Prep in 1A first round.

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? I first started coaching boys basketball as a graduate assistant at Mid America Nazarene College in Olathe Kansas in 1991. I have coached Boys up until last year , I took the position as the head varsity Girls coach at Mountain Ridge High School.

2. What is your team's best attribute entering this season? I would have to say our best attribute is our team unity and character. We are a very young program, which has a lot of good athletes. The most important of which I would have to say is the strong spiritual character of every player. The boys take that strong belief and foundation that they have in Christ and apply it to the basketball court. In doing that they really have a sense of unity that you rarely see in many programs today.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We definitely need to mature as basketball athletes, just become constant students of the game.

4. Who are your team leaders? Trevor Deason is my most vocal, and one of the hardest working.  I also have a group of upper classmen who lead by example in Fabien Kuehhirt, Ed Beasley, Paul Kretzmann, RJ Rawlings,and Joey Childress. They lead by committee.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Pedro Castillo, Jerardo Sampa, are two sophmores that really are a nice addition, as well as freshman Nick Henderson and Spencer Hann. Adam Holly, Caleb Ljundgren and Rosario DelSorbo have a chance at seeing some varsity time this season.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? I think with the continued fundamental teaching of coaches Jerome Brownlee and Tony Jackson and the hard work of our big man inside 6-8 Jeremiah April, we have a great shot at making it to the state tournament this year. We have a saying when we break practice "Family." This is the concept that we believe if we play like a family we will have success and try our very best and leave the rest up to God.

LIBERTY LIONS

COACH: Mark Wood (3rd year at Liberty).

DIVISION/REGION: 4A-II Skyline.

2009-10 RECORD: 15-12, 4-4 region. Lost to Desert Edge in first round of 4A-II playoffs.

TOP RETURNEES: Josh Sparks, Sr., PF (4.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Jake Patterson, Jr., C (1.4 ppg, 2 rpg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? This is my seventth year coaching varsity —  four years at Cactus, three at Liberty.  Altogether, lower levels included, 13 years.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Balance and chemistry

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? This team must simply stay selfless and thinking of each other and they’ll have a successful season.

4. Who are your team leaders? The team chose Josh Sparks, Jake Patterson, Nathan Bannister and Jereme Paddock

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact?  All of our “newcomers” will make an impact:  Markus Booker, Marc Scaffidi, Blake Kellard, Greg Salyer, Bryan Beenau, Brandon Beenau, Jordan Davis and Trevor Arndt

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? Refer to No. 3.

MOUNTAIN RIDGE MTN. LIONS

COACH: Jeff Fore (1st year at school)

DIVISION/REGION: 5A-I Northwest.

2009-10 RECORD: 16-9, 12-2 region.

TOP RETURNEES: Jared Zoller, Sr., SF (13.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Taylor Pickle, Sr., SG (8.1 ppg, 1.9 apg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? I have been coaching for more than 20 years.  I started my career as an assistant basketball coach at Arkansas State University in 1988 and have coached at every level including being a head coach at the college, professional and high school level.

 2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Only being with them for about three weeks we are really still learning from each other.  One thing I am extremely excited about is our ability to defend as well as we are this early in the season.  As I always said defense wins championships and we will need to lean on that until we get more comfortable on the offensive end.  We are going to need Jared Zoller to have a big year which in turn should make everyone better. Jared is a real floor leader and someone that our whole team looks up to.  Not to put any pressure on him but as Jared goes so will the Mountain Ridge basketball team. The big thing is that he knows that and is up the challenge.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Finding additional scoring threats when Jared is double teamed and has to come out because of foul trouble or to rest.  In order to get where we want to go, which is the state tournament, we are going to have to have some of our other seniors step up and be a factor on the offensive end.  Some of the players we will look to include: 6’2 senior captain Taylor Pickle, 6’5 senior Josh Skadeland, 6’4 junior Jacob Taylor, and 5’11” junior Wes Merdith, and 5’10” senior point guard Andy Blackmore.

4. Who are your team leaders? As mentioned above our main team leader is 6’5 Sr. Jared Zoller, other leaders will have to emerge from the list I talked about in question 3 in order for us to reach our ultimate goal.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? We have a large list of newcomers that will see significant time but have very little varsity experience.  They are Jacob Taylor, Andy Blackmore, senior Matthew Tamcsin, and junior Richard Yarbough.  I am also high on junior Austin Bankowski who should see his time increase as we go through the season.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? Jared Zoller is going to have to have a monster year.  Some of our other players who have limited varsity experience are going to have to emerge as leaders on the defensive and offensive end, and we are going to have to have some early success against some of our 5A-I opponents. Since we play in a 5A-II region power points are harder to come by once we reach January. If we can pick up some needed power points early it will help out ranking down the stretch.

NORTHWEST CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS

COACH: Tyler Collins (2nd year at school)

DIVISION/REGION: 2A Metro.

2009-10 RECORD: 20-8, 8-2 region. Lost to Scottsdale Christian in 2A semifinals.

TOP RETURNEES: Dakota Anderson, Sr., PG (19.4 ppg), Hayden Anderson, Jr., SG (12.7 ppg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? Three years.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have an ability to play pretty fast.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Our football team had a successful year, so we are just now getting some of those players who play both. We have a big task of getting everyone in rhythm.

4. Who are your team leaders? Dakota Anderson, Hayden Anderson, Travis Linser, Phil Ogan

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Dylan Schantz, Kevin Gage.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? We need to be able to play together and have everyone buy in to what we’re doing offensively.

PEORIA PANTHERS

COACH: Michael Serwa (1st year).

DIVISION/REGION: 4A-I West Valley.

2009-10 RECORD: 18-10, 9-3 region. Lost to Dysart in second round of 4A-I playoffs.

TOP PLAYERS: Dewayne Russell, Jr., PG (20.7 ppg, 4.8 apg). Lawrence Pierce, Jr., SG (9.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg at Deer Valley in 2009-10).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? This is my eighth season coaching boys at Peoria.  First as head coach.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our leadership and togetherness. The boys have a genuine love for each other and the team. They also are leaders on campus.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to become a team that keeps our mental focus no matter what arises.

4. Who are your team leaders? Dewayne Russell and Lawrence Pierce

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact?  Lawrence Pierce is a transfer from Deer Valley.  He is a tremendous player on the court and a great young man off the court.  He has a 4.3 GPA. 

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season?  We need to develop the mental toughness of a champion.  We need some of our role players to step up and not solely rely on Russell and Pierce to carry us. 

SHADOW RIDGE STALLIONS

COACH: Charles Sanders (1st year).

DIVISION/REGION: 4A-II Skyline.

2009-10 RECORD: First year of varsity basketball at school.

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? Nine years.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? This season our team’s best attribute is speed in transition on offense and defense.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We must improve on our defense with every practice every game.

4. Who are your team leaders? Team leaders are sophomore guard Tyler Gibbs and sophomore forward Jacob Walke.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Newcomers to the varsity squad that are impact players are guards Robert Bre’dell and center R.J. Downs.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? Our team is fully committed to win state championships. The players understand what is required is hard work, communication between players and coaches, and a total team effort in terms of execution.

SUNRISE MOUNTAIN MUSTANGS

COACH: Jason Pasinski (10th year)

DIVISION/REGION: 4A-I West Valley.

2009-10 RECORD: 15-12, 8-4 region. Lost to Apollo in first round of 4A-I playoffs.

TOP PLAYERS: Brandon Kocmoud, Sr., PF (11.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg). Steven Kane, Sr., SF (8.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? 15, 10th year as head coach

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Experience. We have five returners, four of which that saw significant time. We are also balanced. We have some nice pieces.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to score more, push and control tempo. We also need to take care of the ball better. Rebounding could be a question because we lack size but sometimes the smallest teams turn out to be the best rebounding teams because they know they have to.

4. Who are your team leaders? Brandon Kocmound, Marcos Lopez, Chris Garcia, Tyler Sciotto, Steven Kane. Kocmoud is extremely versatile. He is a tremendous rebounder and passer. He’s unselfish almost to a fault because he’s a great shooter and scorer too. We are thrilled to have Kane back too. He gives us a dimension on the perimeter that will keep teams honest defensively. Marcos has really put the time in both on the floor and in the weight room. He’s a tremendous athlete.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Ardit Riznolli (transfer from Peoria), Chris Garcia (played varsity, but was injured)

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? We need to play consistently and improve each day. We need to play strong every day, whether it’s practice or games. If guys can accept their roles and flourish within those roles, we are going to be a tough out.

VALLEY VISTA MONSOON

COACH: Michael Anderson (3rd year).

DIVISION/REGION: 5A-II Northwest.

2009-10 RECORD: 10-15, 5-9 region.

TOP RETURNEES: Terry Alexander, Sr., SF, (7.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg), Robert Bell, Sr., PF, (4.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? This is my eighth season coaching basketball, third at Valley Vista.

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our best attribute is our team spirit. We have a group of guys who are playing together and are concerned about the accomplishments of the team over themselves.

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We are looking to be more efficient on offense, and competing more on defense.

4. Who are your team leaders? We try to stress to each player that he is a leader.

Whether he is leading in a positive or negative manner is up to him.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? We have three juniors new to the varsity team this year —  T.K. Edogi, Justin White, and Zaq Stevenson — each of them will have the opportunity to make a great impact this season.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? All we can control is our attitudes and our efforts each and every day.

WILLOW CANYON WILDCATS

COACH: Robert Bohon (8th year).

DIVISION/REGION: 5A-II Northwest.

2009-10 RECORD: 8-16, 6-8 region.

TOP RETURNEES: Deion Giddens, Sr., C, (8.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3 bpg), Deion Crockom, Sr., PG, (13.2 ppg, 4 apg).

1. How many years have you coached boys basketball? 18 years (Eight years at Willow Canyon).

2. What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have a very good mix of size and athleticism,

3. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We have a couple of simple concepts: a) play hard, b) play together,

4. Who are your team leaders? We have several team leaders, but our most experienced players are Deion Crockom and Emery Range. They have been members of the varsity for four years. A player that has a major impact is 6-foot 9-inch senior Deion Giddens, who has signed to play at Cornell College of the Ivy League.

5. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? We have several players that have been part of our program that have worked their way through freshman and junior varsity levels: Jeremy Henige, Miles Reid, David Taylor and Xavier Smith. In addition, we have a couple of impact move-in players: Julian Phifer and Andrew Curiel.

6. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? To make a run deep into the state tournament the team must be able to execute on offense and defense. To be able to execute you have to work every practice and game on these concepts.

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