Posted On: 01/8/17 8:00 AM
5A has stuck true to form to what most projected with Apollo, Sunnyslope, and Chaparral sitting at the top of the division. With that said, there are a number of surprise and on the rise teams that will look to make an impact come state. Below is our top team in the state, the team on the rise, and the biggest surprise thus far.
Apollo High School
Sunnyslope High School was the #1 for the majority of the season, but a couple of things have happened as of recent. First, Sunnyslope is no longer undefeated as they dropped a game to Ironwood High School. In addition to this lose, Apollo seems to have taken over the top spot for 5A. During the Winter break, Apollo was able to knock off 6A power Corona Del Sol. Moreover their only in-state loses have come in tournaments, with one of those being to 21-0 Basha and the other being to Chaparral in a game where Dre Marin and Holland Woods did not play.
One of the things that makes Apollo so tough is there role players and depth. Everyone knows about the NCAA Division-I standouts, who are definitely making Portland State and Southern Utah University look like they got steals, Marin and Woods. In addition to Marin and Woods, Apollo has one of the top marksmen in the state with Jeff Perez, a talented and long prospect in 2019 Emmanuel Taban, and fellow 2017 talented guard Elloheim Clark. If someone is going to knock them off, they will have to play some lockdown defense as this star studded team is averaging almost 80 points per game.
Despite a rough start, Liberty appears to be back in form as they have won seven in a row and winning the Judy Dixon Holiday tournament. Liberty is led by Dominic Ciccaglione, Cole Roether, Jacob Edahl, and Quentin Guliford. There pressure style of basketball creates havoc for opponents and it gives them the opportunity to trade turnovers and 2s for 3 point opportunities. If Liberty continues to play at the rate that they are playing, they could earn themselves a region title. At this point, it looks like their biggest competition for that crown will be Sierra Linda.
Ironwood High School
Apparently the key to success is to lose two leading scorers from last season and to move to one of the most difficult regions in 5A. At least that has been the story for Ironwood as they have already won more games this season, at 10-6, than they won all of last season. In addition, with tournament play out of the way, the group returns to region play at a 7-2 (2-0) mark with a big away game against another talented team in McClintock. So far, the biggest win for this group was against previously ranked #1 Sunnyslope.
This team is led by talented 2017 prospects Cody Carmichael, Noah Foskit, and Geoff Hibbitt. In addition, they have received invaluable contributions from sharp shooters George Lopez and Dominic Gonzalez. Furthermore, one of the biggest reasons for their improved play has been the emergence of two year 2018 prospect Tyrese Eugene. The schedule does not get any easier for this team, but they look poised to continue this solid run as they return to their tough region.