Posted On: 11/28/18 12:19 PM
Desert Vista battled Shadow Ridge in a closely-contested 74-65 victory in Ahwatukee on November 27. Both playoff teams from last year, each looked to have a solid start to their seasons, but the Thunder were overwhelming with their tight defense and pulled out a close one.
Here are five key questions answered by the game:
1) How will the new-look Thunder play offense after losing their entire starting unit?
Four seniors and one transfer means Desert Vista has a whole new five at the beginning of the game. Senior Isaiah Wilson, who played a big role as a backup guard last year, is the team leader now, and handles the ball a majority of the time. He has improved his driving, and can finish at the rim and make passes to shooters or big-man Osasere Ighodaro on the wing.
2) How will Shadow Ridge look without Anthony Garza on the floor?
Though just one game, the opener provided a look into how the Stallions will have to play without their top scorer on the floor. He was in foul trouble nearly the entire game, and only played significant minutes in the fourth quarter. He can provide some easy baskets down low using his size and strength. But, the team has to rely on much more ball movement and creating baskets on set plays with him off the court.
3) Who else is going to step up for the Thunder?
Wilson and Ighodaro both played roles with last year’s team, but nearly everybody else was either on JV or contributed little on the varsity squad. In this game, Mason Harbertson made effective drives to the rim and rebounded well on both sides. A captain, he will be looked at to make some of the hustle plays necessary for wins. Jackson Risi shot the lights out from deep, and should be able to spread the floor.
4) How will the Thunder make up for a lack of size?
Ighodaro is the one true big man on a team that essentially started four of them last year. The Thunder rely on defensive pressure, forcing turnovers and then running in transition to score easy baskets. Players like Jackson Ray make up for a lack of size at certain positions by simply not allowing the ball into the paint whenever possible.
5) Who will the distributor be for Shadow Ridge
Garza led the team in assists as a big man last year, but the Stallions seems to have some guards who have greatly improved and can move the ball. CJ Davis, JaQuan Moore and Caleb Grieshaber all have the ability to dribble in traffic and make solid passes from the paint. None of them have to be ball-dominant to spread the floor, and the team looks to be more willing to spread the ball around than others in the area.