Posted On: 10/1/18 12:40 AM
4A is extremely top heavy with Shadow Mountain leading the way. Further, Buckeye, Salpointe, and Deer Valley are very close behind. After that, there are a slew of good teams. However, no other real title contenders. With that said, the teams below are 4A Darkhorses. These groups could find a way to make it into the state tournament and pull off a first round upset.
Sahuaro has a history of winning basketball games. While there are a lot of unknowns about this basketball team, they will most likely reload instead of rebuild. This group will be in a tough region and will need to restock quickly in order to make a run. However, they do have a couple of pieces whom should help them in this transition.
Kevin Poe was productive for this team last year. He shot the basketball at a high level. However, he will need to take on more of a playmaker role this year rather than being a knockdown shooter.
In addition to Poe, Eric Blackwell and Shea Heslep also played meaningful minutes for the team. While these three prospects are the most likely to step up, Sahuaro still has a lot of work to do in order to ensure they compete in one of the toughest regions in 4A.
This pick might surprise some as Douglas only won six games last year. With that said, they did so with two sophomores leading the way. The team will have more experience and potential to compete with the other talented teams in 4A. While they were unsuccessful in pulling off upsets last year, they did have multiple close games with teams that they will need to beat this upcoming season in order to be a true darkhorse.
This is not a group that will be hoisting a state championship by season’s end. However, these team could find a way to sneak into the round of 24. Their region is strong, but they should be able to compete and pull off a couple of upsets.
Keep an eye on Francisco Lugo and Sam Ramos. These two guys were bright spots for a team that struggled last year. With a year of maturity under their belt, expect them to contribute at a higher level.
In addition to having back their two leading scorers, Douglas also brings back another 2020 in Jose Ruiz and a 2021 in Ernesto Bernal who played a lot of minutes for the team last year. This team did not lose much and should be ready to have a much improved season.
Tempe always plays hard and has decent size. This team is extremely physical and will beat up teams on the glass as well as on the defensive end of the floor. Due to their style of play, they will be in almost every game they play this season. This group will grind out a couple of wins that they are not supposed to get.
Jalen Grant is going to set the tone for the group. The 6’7 big man led the group in rebounding and does a great job of finishing around the rim. He does not need a lot of post touches in order to make an impact due to his second chance scoring and motor. He will keep the team in games due to his ability to control the paint on both sides of the floor.
Kameron Spivey-Johnson is the most skilled prospect on the roster. He will be responsible for assuming their top playmaker spot. His ability to score and create for others will be key to whatever success this team experiences this next season.
Bryant Jzathavyon and Forest Swope will be crucial X-Factors as well. Talent is not an issue with this team. However, their region is brutal. If they can survive it and make it to the state tournament, this is not a team that opposing groups will want to face.