Girls basketball games to watch this week
The movement begins. Schedules get really crammed (“brutal” is an apt word in a few cases) and power rankings will jostle often in this final month of the regular season.
It’s basically a three-week cram session.
There are many girls hoops games worth watching this week, as there will be each week moving forward.
(All power point rankings and records are as of Monday, Jan. 7; All games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted).
Highland at Xavier: The push continues toward career win No. 700 for Highland coach Miner Webster, not that he cares that much. The No. 3-Hawks (7-0) have done it their way with defense, and just enough offense to get by. Xavier (No. 15 at 5-3) is better than their seeding, but this could be the best (ie. most difficult) week of the power ranking schedule for the Gators to make a move, with St. Mary’s (Wednesday) and at Horizon (Friday).
Hamilton at St. Mary’s: A rematch of last year’s Div. I state championship game won by St. Mary’s, but the Huskies have a good amount of talent again (especially in the frontcourt) to cause the Knights some problems. The key, of course, will be defending the Knights and Hamilton avoiding the track-meet turnovers St. Mary’s (No. 12 at 6-0) has caused better than anyone in the past three years. The Huskies (No. 9 at 6-0) are the next in line in trying to be the first AZ team since Pinnacle in 2010 to beat St. Mary’s, but this is also a four-games-in-five-days stretch. Jeff Kain’s team will be OK win or lose here, but have a couple more significant challenges next week as the schedule gets more difficult.
Red Mountain at Dobson: A win here for the Mustangs (No. 6 at 5-1) helps put them in the driver’s seat for the next 7-10 days as the schedule opens up a bit before becoming more difficult to close January. But it’s also four games in five days this week (six games in eight days overall) for Tyler Dumas’ crew. The next two weeks are huge for Red Mountain (No. 29 at 5-4) in maintaining good standing toward postseason (regardless of sectional tournament outcome) because the final five games of the regular season are Highland (twice), Dobson, Mountain View and Desert Ridge.
Arcadia at Saguaro: Always a good matchup when these two teams clash and this year’s matchups will be no different. Saguaro began in rough shape but a difficult early-season tournament schedule has helped pay dividends lately. The Sabercats lost 48-47 to Phoenix Thunderbird in the championship game of Arcadia Lady Titans Winter Classic, and have wins against Queen Creek and Peoria plus a close loss (60-53) to Seton Catholic. Arcadia (No. 21 at 7-1) would have felt better about itself had it not dropped a 34-30 contest to Thunderbird before the break, its second last-minute loss to T-Bird this season. Still, the Titans will be fine and could easily roll off about 4-5 consecutive wins before Notre Dame and Saguaro (again) come back.
Marcos de Niza at Desert Ridge: This begins a three-games-in-three-nights stretch for the Padres (No. 32 at 3-4), with a trip to Desert Vista (Wed.) and back home against McClintock (Thurs.) to follow. After this, however, the schedule favors Marcos significantly (except a Mountain View tussle on Jan. 22), so the question is if a couple wins this week and no more than another loss or two the rest of the way will be enough for Marcos to get into the Division I, Section 2 tournament or beyond. Desert Ridge (No. 41 at 3-3) is in trouble, because the Jaguars start with Perry (Monday) and then Williams Field (Friday), followed by Dobson, Highland (twice), Basha (twice) and Red Mountain upcoming.
Mesquite at Gilbert: Mesquite (No. 23 at 4-4) won the first matchup fairly handily (59-36) in mid-December. It’s also a three-games-in-four-days stretch for Mesquite with Basha and Dobson on the dockett this week. Gilbert (No. 46 at 2-5) has had a terrible time scoring most of this season, but the Tigers are coming off a nice win against Red Mountain before Winter Break in a power rankings contest. Dobson twice, Highland, Basha and Mountain Pointe are still to come.
Campo Verde at Betty H. Fairfax: Campo (No. 15 at 6-2) only has blemishes against Queen Creek (58-57) and to Seton Catholic in mid-December. The Coyotes will face both those schools again, while the rest of the schedule is pretty favorable, so the Coyotes are in good shape for a playoff spot moving forward. Betty Fairfax (No. 9 at 8-1) has been strong record-wise but the jury is still out on just how legitimate it really is (blowout loss to Avondale Westview, narrow loss to Peoria Centennial and Arcadia).
Mountain View at Chandler: The Toros (No. 14 at 8-1) have continued winning despite a rash of significant injuries to the starting lineup most of the season and the schedule is favorable the rest of the way (good thing the Toros played top competition in tournaments earlier this season). If Chandler (No. 25 at 3-4) is going to make a move up the ladder it has to start here with Perry (Tuesday), the Toros and then vs. Dobson next week, plus Hamilton twice and Xavier coming up later this month.
Desert Vista at Mountain Pointe: The Pride (No. 2 at 9-0) have been unblemished outside a tournament championship game loss to Pinnacle. The Thunder (No. 18 at 5-3) played very well in the NW Desert Classic which included a win against Seton Catholic (top-notch in Div. II). DV has a good chance at winning three of the next four or so leading up to the Chandler and Mountain View games (Jan. 18 and 21). The two teams will meet again on Jan. 31, which, after DV faces Xavier on the 28th, could be huge for the Thunder in postseason parlance.
Xavier at Horizon: Xavier (No. 15 at 5-3) took the first matchup, 60-53, in late November, but will be coming off a meeting with St. Mary’s on Wednesday night, not to mention Highland from Monday night. The Gators have hung with the elite in Arizona (Mountain View, Mountain Pointe, etc…) but have yet to get that “signature” win. Horizon (No. 24 at 5-2) won five consecutive games leading into the Winter Break. Then after a tough start to the Arcadia Winter Hoops Classic, the Huskies won the final three games. Facing Pinnacle twice and Chaparral twice after this game could tell the tale for Horizon.
Tags: Arcadia, Basha, Campo Verde, Chandler, Desert Ridge, desert vista, Dobson, girls basketball, Hamilton, Highland, marcos de niza, Mountain Pointe, Mountain View, Red Mountain, Saguaro, Seton Catholic, St. Mary's, Xavier