Corona del Sol looks like favorite at midway point
We’re about halfway through the boys basketball season, and here are a few thoughts on what I’ve seen thus far:
* Corona del Sol is the Division I favorite. Coach Sam Duane has only had every player available in one game this season, but the team has still been very impressive, and is expected to be full strength next week. Arizona State-bound shooting guard Calaen Robinson is the team’s scoring leader and best player, but the supporting cast is very good. Avery Moss is one of the state’s better post players while Casey Benson is a solid point guard. The Aztecs have good balance and depth and are well-coached. It would have been nice to see them play Pinnacle or Basha in the regular season, but this is the most complete team I’ve watched this year.
* Basha, Cesar Chavez, Desert Vista and Pinnacle are the main contenders. Basha has one of the most talented teams, and it’s pressure-oriented attack can cause serious problems for teams with shaky ball-handlers. The Bears don’t have much of a half-court offense, and besides sharpshooter Nathan Markovich, not much of an outside game, but the team’s sheer athleticism will keep it in games. Pinnacle has good balance and a bevy of good shooters. The Pioneers aren’t as athletic as Basha, but if they hit open shots they are tough to beat. The half-court attack is pretty good. Desert Vista has a go-to guy in Danny Powell, a good complement in Jeff Lowery and several role players that step up on different nights. If anything, Lowery needs to get the ball more. He’s under-utilized for the amount of talent he has. I haven’t seen Cesar Chavez yet, but it sounds like the Champions play the same style as the past few seasons, running teams ragged and trying to push the pace at all times.
* Mountain View and Brophy are the darkhorses. The Broncos were in this position last year as a No. 6 seed and beat North and Mesa to make the state finals. James Harper leads the way for a team that has some solid wins and could make another run if presented with the right matchups. The Toros, the defending champions, don’t have the same offensive capabilities as a year ago, but with Camyn Boone down low and the state’s best coach in Gary Ernst, don’t count out Mountain View.
* The early playoff rounds could be interesting. East Valley teams like Dobson, Mesquite, Hamilton, Red Mountain, Perry, Desert Ridge and Gilbert have all been up and down. If one of these teams gets hot at the right time, they could easily pull off an upset or two.