Posted On: 12/4/18 11:36 AM

Two 4A playoff-contenders in Buckeye Union and Mesquite squared off Monday in an early-season non-conference contest in Gilbert, Arizona. It would be a pleasure to see these two teams square off again, possibly in the postseason.

Buckeye led nearly the entire game, reaching a double-digit lead in the first quarter. However, the Wildcats stormed back to tie the game at several points, and dropped the deficit to just six points late in the fourth quarter. With foul shooting and rebounding, the Hawks held on and won 91-84 in an intense battle.

Here are five takeaways from the game:


For now, Mesquite will go as far as its outside shooting:

With one of the Wildcats’ top scorers in senior Kingdom Artis, who provides scoring at all levels, the Wildcats played a line-up full of smaller guards and forwards with center Edin Smjecanin manning the middle. He can post up, rebound and score with some of the sections best big men, but doesn’t have another player who plays a similar style by him. Against tough, zone defense, Mesquite’s starting guards, Ricky Hernandez and Jordan Wollangk were forced into a lot of threes. The makes and misses from beyond the arc could prove crucial for the Wildcats going forward.

Buckeye is as good as anybody in 4A at getting to the rim:

It may be because the Wildcats were without one of their taller starters, but Tay Boothman and Otis Frazier specifically spent much of the game driving the lane and finishing at the basket. They both possess great dribbling ability and can finish with both hands. Add to that Adam Hamilton and Xavier Hall, who both play a very physical brand of basketball for the high school level, and can get to the foul line pretty easily, and they can make smaller opponents pay.

When Isaiah Marin comes back, Buckeye is going to be tough:

Sitting out, transfer Marin will make a difference for the Hawks when he gets back on the court. Marin provides slashing, shooting and finishing ability at the rim, and will be able to take some of the pressure off Frazier and Boothman specifically, who spend a lot of time driving to the basket. Assuming he takes a starting spot, the Hawks’ starting five could be one of the tallest and best in the state, regardless of class.

These guys are physical, both teams:

This game was filled with technicals, early foul-trouble and just incredibly-competitive hoops. Neither team played “dirty” but emotions were certainly flying on both ends, and several players fouled out. From the top stars to other starters and role players, like Mesquite’s Christion Ashe and Buckeye’s Ramir Jenkins who both competed hard against opposing guards and small forwards, especially on defense, neither team looks like it will go down any time son without a fight.

I love Ricky Hernandez’s floaters:

This is a small thing, and definitely just a personal opinion, but I love a guard that has a good floater game. Against some taller defenders, Hernandez used the shot several times in the paint to traverse through outstretched arms and score points. Not too many high school players have that shot as a true weapon in their arsenal.