Posted On: 12/15/17 12:37 PM
With the season in full swing, the majority of the top games tend to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For week 4, we decided to highlight some of the action from some of the top games across the state last night. Below are my Thursday Thoughts that include my big 5 takeaways from the evening of games.
Shadow Mountain is fresh off of another blow out with a 99 to 29 win over Cactus. Further, Shadow Mountain is currently averaging to beat in-state foes by the score of 102 to 41. This insane scoring margin has led me to not just ask if anyone can beat them. Rather, can anyone come within 10 points of them? Their next two games are the most likely scenarios of teams that could potentially come within 10 points.
Pinnacle is up next. Unfortunately, Pinnacle is still undermanned with Trent Brown out. However, they have Nico Mannion and many other high caliber prospects. This is one of the few remaining games on their schedule that could be a close contest. Further, this is one of the only games that Shadow Mountain could potentially lose.
In addition to Pinnacle, Shadow Mountain then turns around and plays district rival Paradise Valley. Although it is a long shot for Paradise Valley to take down Shadow Mountain, they are talented and could make this a game. With that said, I do not see anyone in-state coming within 10 points of Shadow Mountain this season.
Sandra Day O’Conner has had a strong start to their season and lost a close battle with the 6A top contender for the state championship last night. While Pinnacle is not at full strength, Sandra Day still showed that they are up to competing with the top teams in 6A. TJ Connaker is playing extremely well early in this season as he is averaging nearly 22 points and 5 assists. In addition to Connaker, Keaton Rodgers is back and playing at a high level. His ability to play on the block and improved versatility that allows him to play on the perimeter has assisted this team greatly. Lastly, Chase Morley has continued his strong play from this summer. His high basketball IQ and ability to create for his teammates have made the back court for SDO one of the best in the state.
Tucson has a number of solid guards this season. One of the most unknown guards in the state is Derek Williams of Tucson. Despite putting up great numbers and keeping Tucson relevant, Williams is largely unknown to anyone outside of Tucson. However, he had a chance to show what he could do against one of the state’s top guards in Sam Beskind. Williams held his own and then some despite the close lose to Catalina Foothills.
Sam Beskind is back from an injury that limited him early in the season, and he is playing extremely well. His strength, height, and athleticism make him a match-up nightmare for the vast majority of opposing guards. Catalina Foothills might be one of the few teams in 4A who could challenge Shadow Mountain for the state title. Continue to look out for the guards of Tucson in my weekly takeaways.
Deer Valley has earned to be in a couple of my takeaways this year. They have played arguably the toughest schedule out of anyone in 5A. Many teams would be pumped just to have a winning record at this point due to playing the likes of the opponents they have played. However, they have managed to do it and stay unscathed.
With that said, the road does not get easier. After winning two hard fought games this week against teams who will make the state tournament in Paradise Valley and Arcadia, they get to turn around and play Apollo, who they nearly beat earlier in the season. Then, on Monday, they play against #2 Sunnyslope in what should be a huge battle.
Deven Breckner and Bryce Davis are the keys to this team’s success, but it is their role players who are playing huge minutes and continuing to keep these team a step above everyone.
Liberty has been led in large part due to the solid play of Quentin Guliford and the sharpshooting of the team. Conner Ray has recently returned to the team and his shooting abilities have aided this team greatly. However, Liberty opened up their region last night with a win against the most likely team to challenge them for the region title without Guliford.
Jacob Edahl becomes the primary playmaker with “Q”, as he is known around the state, out. Although the injury is unfortunate, the timing might be the best as he will most likely only miss two games. Further, this team that is on a hot streak comparable to anyone in the state gets the services of one of the best point guards in the state in Josh Ursery very soon. Liberty is one of the top 5 teams in 5A and is a legitimate state title contender.