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Posted On: 02/19/18 4:10 PM
The conversation in San Diego Section’s Division 4 has been dominated by two teams whose leaders once played on the same team.
Maranatha Christian (24-3) is led by Phillip Willis, while Thomas Marcus leads San Diego (18-7). As sophomores, the two were part of a potent Horizon Christian Academy back court.
Since then, Horizon has shut down, and the school’s demise was their new schools’ gain, as both teams completed strong seasons.
Which of these former teammates can claim the Division 4 crown, and can any of the teams in the field slow them down? Prep Hoops gives you our bracket analysis.
The best shooting team in the bracket is led by 6-3 senior guard Phillip Willis, who has put together a strong two-year resume with the eagles. Willis’ presence on the perimeter opens up shooting opportunities for senior sharpshooter Micaiah Boettner, Adam Buffini and Nate Salas, who are all capable of stringing together threes from deep. They beat San Diego in their lone matchup, a 66-62 win during the Grossmont Winter Classic. Don’t be surprised if this is winds up being the championship matchup on March 3.
If Maranatha is the best shooting team, the Cavers have the most athletic team in the field, and it’s not close. Senior guard Thomas Marcus, a 6-3 scorer, is headed to Arizona on a football scholarship. But he’s plenty good on the hardwood. Fellow 6-5 senior Emanwel Henry is capable of having big games, junior guard Daniel Thomas is a load off the dribble, and freshman guard AJ Burgin has been a steadying influence on both ends.
The Monarchs shook off last year’s nadir to finish 18-10 and 4-4 in the Grossmont Valley League. This team goes as its senior star Deondre McHayle goes. The 6-1 200-lb scoring guard fills it up in a hurry. Senior guard Jordan Bramer is a solid shooter and 5-8 junior point guard Tommy Gallegos is a pest on the defensive side of the ball. If Monte Vista gets good interior play from juniors DeMarcus Mckan and Derrick Wiley, they are a tough out.
The Eagles (another one!) are led by the potent junior scoring duo of Chase Webb and Josh Sedlock. Webb, a 6-5 face-up four, is a unique double-double threat, averages 17 points and 10 rebounds and has hit 44 threes on the season. Sedlock, a 6-3 shooting guard, is second on the team averaging 13.2 points per contest. Tri-City also gets consistent contributions from junior Josh Thompson and seniors Cody Hines and Jack Knowles. Freshman Keaton Webb has also had a solid start to his high-school career. With the way they score it, the Eagles are capable of holding serve in the opening rounds.
Lurking in the 8 slot is an Eagles (sense a theme?) team that brings back all of its key pieces from last year’s Division 4 semifinals. It’s taken a while for the team to gel, however, due to football and a coaching change, it has taken the team a little longer to gel. With all the pieces here and accounted for, this Southwest team is dangerous. The starting five of Grant Hansink (6-5 forward), Ryan Silva (6-0 combo guard), Eric Pompa (5-9 point guard), Cameron Jungers and Tyler Saikhon plays fast, can hit the three and can score in the paint. A potential quarterfinals matchup looms with Maranatha Christian if they can get by Calipatria, which could very well be a semifinals matchup.
Preuss is owner of the best small-schools back court, as junior guard Kibru Sugebo and senior guard Thomas Tolentino are capable of big offensive outbursts. How far they will go will depend on the supporting cast’s contributions on both ends. They have a tough opening round game against Victory Christian, and if they advance, they face a daunting task in 2-seed San Diego. But when you have guard play, you’re capable of making waves in the bracket.
If there are any teams on the bottom half of the bracket capable of turning the upset, I’d look at 12-seed El Capitan and 13-seed Crawford. The Vaqueros have been hit with injuries, but played a tough schedule and have 6-3 sophomore Jacob Pfitzner, one of the best shooters in the 2020 class. If he’s on, watch out. Crawford is dangerous at 13 seed, because they play a very unorthodox style, have tough guards who play hard, and have a very good rebounder in junior forward Rickey Stewart. When he’s engaged, Crawford is capable of beating anyone in the field.