Posted On: 09/4/18 12:14 AM
The 5A Northeast Valley is far from a walk in the park. This group is tough and loaded with talent. The depth in this region will make it challenging for teams to make it to the state tournament unblemished. However, the teams will be ready to compete with anyone in the 1 and done format due to having to be ready to go over night due to the high level of competition.
McClintock, Cactus Shadows, and Horizon make our top three list. However, this region is capable of sending five teams to state with Paradise Valley and Desert Mountain being in the mix. Further, Notre Dame Prep and North Canyon will be improved compared to last year. This region has no wink links whatsoever.
McClintock gets to move from the toughest region in 5A over the course of the past two years, 5A Metro, to arguably the deepest region in 5A. This group is tough and there will be no room for off days. However, McClintock brings back the top player in the region and the most overall depth.
Josh Baker is a walking bucket who will be given the basketball frequently and told to create for himself and his teammates. His ability to shoot the basketball from deep is elite as there might not be a shooter in 5A who can shoot it as confidently and comfortably as he can in an array of spots and situations.
Baker will have Armani Williams to rely upon as well. Williams might be the best overall athlete on this team. Further, he continues to get more and more accurate from deep. They will also have strong point guard play from Mekhi Rodgers as well.
Lastly, they have one of the best rim protectors in 5A in Jalen Calvert. McClintock is more than just a region champion contender. They are a state champion caliber team.
2. Cactus Shadows
Many teams who move up to 5A have reason to be concerned. Further, moving into this region is not easy task. However, Cactus Shadows is very definitely a huge reason as to why this region is dangerous.
This group is as gritty as they get. They might not have tremendous size, but they make up for it with heart and shooting. This team plays for each other and it is evident which has resulted in success on the floor.
This team won 21 games last year and brings back four of their five leading scorers. Do not be surprised to see them win 20+ games again in the 5A world while competing against some of the top teams in the group. They have that type of talent.
Keep an eye on these guys: CJ Nnorom, Jake Benci, Sam Goulet, Duncan Hearn, and Knox Riddle. Part of what makes this team so tough is that they can all shoot it. However, Nnorom is better at attacking the rim while Benci can let it fly with anyone in the state from deep.
This group returns five prospects who hit at least ten threes last year and who shot it over 30% from three. Dangerous is all that I have to say.
It is hard to mention shooters and scrappy play without mentioning Horizon. This region is going to get up and down due to the high level of shooting. Horizon fits right into this mold as they want to press and create as many three point shooting opportunities as possible.
Out scoring Horizon is not simple task as they are going to be seeking that basket and a half on every possession. Further, they are going to create turnovers and frustration due to their chaotic style of play. It is hard to prepare for them as few are as devoted to pressing and casting up threes as this group.
As far as key contributors are concerned, Aidyn Albright shot the basketball well from deep and created as he averaged nearly 8 assists per game. Having a point guard who can shoot it and get others involved is essential in making a system like this work as the basketball has to touch hands and move side to side in order for the system to work at optimal capacity.
JD Feagles, Logan McCullough, and Michael Sand will also look to play bigger roles this year. All three got important reps last season. However, they will be needed now even more than they were last year in order for the team to be in region title contention.