Posted On: 10/11/18 12:23 AM

The Prep Hoops Arizona Sweet 16 will begin this Friday, October 12 at Glendale Community College and Apollo High School. Apollo High School will host the 1st and 2nd round games for the top half of the bracket. Below is preview of the 1st round games of the event.

Game 1: Apollo vs. Cactus (Apollo Main Gym) at 6:00 PM

Apollo comes into this tournament as one of the top 5A schools in the state. In fact, they are the favorite to make it to the championship bracket on Saturday at Ironwood, which would mean they won their first two games. Emmanuel Taban is one of the top prospects in the event. He can score the basketball in an array of ways. Further, he is the little things on the defensive end.

In addition to Taban, Paris Woods is one of the top guards. He facilitates the groups dribble drive offense. His ability to attack the rim and create for others gets them going offensively. Further, he is a more than capable shooter. As far as X-Factors are concerned, Tramane Lee and Gabriel Nyawumenya do all of the dirty work for the team. Lee is a monster on the glass while Nyawumenya sets the tempo for the team on defense.

As far as Cactus is concerned, despite losing some important pieces from this team last year, this group has a lot of potential. TJ Rucker is the primary playmaker for this group. He gets into the paint and makes great reads with the basketball. He makes the team go, and he will have plenty of responsibility this upcoming season.

Ben Seale and Connor Cordts will be key role players for the team this upcoming season as well. However, due to football obligations, Seale will be the only one participating this weekend. These two mixed with Rucker, one of the most under-rated guards in the state, could make this team quite competitive.

Game 2: Sandra Day vs. Shadow Ridge (Apollo Auxiliary Gym) at 6:00 PM

This might be the most exciting match-up of the 1st day due to both of these teams being solid 6A squads. Sandra Day will have consistent guard play from Chase Morley and Elijah Trice. These two give Sandra Day a solid back-court whom will execute on offense and lock up on the defensive end.

Further, Keaton Rodgers has improved greatly. If Rodgers plays anything like he did at the Top 250 Expo, expect Sandra Day to take huge steps forward this upcoming season. Moreover, it will make the match-up between him and Anthony Garza of Shadow Ridge that much more intriguing.

Garza has a motor that never stops. He is tough on the glass and finishes well around the rim. With that said, Rodgers is physical and will compete with him. This will be the most interesting portion of this match-up to monitor. With that said, Shadow Ridge has a lot of questions that need to be answered in regards to who will support Garza.

JaQuan Moore is the obvious choice at this point due to his athleticism and shooting. While he did not shoot it at a great percentage last year, he let it fly well enough to make opposing teams respect him. Further, he represents the most consistent shooter returning from last year. Shooting will be key to this team’s success as it will pull the help side defense away from Garza.

This should be one of the better first round match-ups at the event.

Game 3: Desert Mountain vs. Thunderbird (Apollo Main Gym) at 7:00 PM

Desert Mountain will not have their full team. However, they have plenty of talent and play disciplined basketball. They compete on the defensive end and execute on the offensive end. With Brandon Kron being busy with football that a lot of the weight will fall on Dylan McGirt’s shoulders this weekend. McGirt is going to get a chance to give a preview of what he will be doing for the team this upcoming season.

This past year, McGirt shot the basketball at a high level from deep and facilitated the offense for the team. He has a high basketball IQ and a solid feel for the game.

Thunderbird also has a lot of unknowns as they will be a relatively young group. The past couple of seasons have been below the expectations that Head Coach Buddy Rake has set for the program. He is a top tier coach who will have these boys ready to compete at a high level. One of the top underclassmen to watch for this team is Jahon Lethridge.

Game 4: Hillcrest vs. Nogales (Apollo Auxiliary Gym) at 7:00 PM

Nogales makes the trip up to Glendale with a lot of unknowns as well. One of the biggest knowns for them is that the team they are playing in the 1st round is one of the best teams in the entire nation. Sammy Legleu ran the show for Nogales the past couple of years. It is unlikely that the team will be able to replace him directly.

However, they have some key returners who will try to do it by committee. Fabian Maldonado, David Villa, and Luis Martinez will be looked to in order to lead the group this year. It will be intriguing to see how they adjust to this role against one of the top teams in the nation. With that said, one thing that is for sure: Nogales will compete. They always play hard and shoot the basketball well from deep which can prove to be a disaster in 1 and done formats for the opposing team.

Hillcrest will feature four of the top guards in the west coast in Kyree WalkerDalen TerryJeron Artest, and Dimitrios Stragalinos. Further, Dischon Thomas is as good of an athlete on the block as there is in this event.

This team is stacked from top to bottom. They have plenty of pieces and all will be on full display this weekend. Hillcrest should be one of the most fun teams to watch this weekend. If they end up matching up with Apollo in the Prep Hoops Arizona Sweet 16 semifinals, there could be some fireworks.

*All 2nd Round games will be played at Apollo High School on October 12. The Consolation bracket will continue at Apollo on Saturday, October 13. The Championship bracket will continue at Ironwood High School on Saturday, October 13.