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Arizona State Basketball Semi Finals Report

02/27/2017, 3:00am CST
By Ed Baur

 Arizona State Tournament Rolling to a Close

Ed Baur - February 24, 2017

Every state’s annual State Tournament is bittersweet in that it’s an exciting time but also the end of time, in a basketball sense.  Arizona breaks its schools into six “classes” and I was able to check out some late round action in the top two classes (6A & 5A).  I’ll have a follow-up report next week as to who came away with all of the Golden Balls.

6A – Semi-finals:

(Tempe) Corona del Sol   85      (Laveen) Cesar Chavez   66

Back in late December I reported on Corona’s game with Phoenix Apollo (Apollo winning 92-79) stating that the difference in the game was that Corona simply didn’t have a supporting cast for their two major D1 signees.  Well, seven weeks later I have to give “props” to the CDS coaching staff as they have developed some young talent which might keep the Aztecs near the elite level for the near future.  (CDS won four consecutive state titles from 2012 through 2015.)

Cesar Chavez (24-5) appeared to be simply too big and too athletic for CDS (26-3) and the Champions were on a mission to pick-up their first state title.  (2017)  6’3” Saben Lee (VANDERBILT SIGNEE) ended that dream racking up 39 points (including 19 of 20 from the foul-line!), 12 rebounds, 8 steals and 3 blocks.  Fellow star (2017) 6’2” Alex Barcello (ARIZONA SIGNEE) contributed a solid floor game and grabbed his share of rebounds while adding 20 points.

But it was the contributions of (2020) 6’ Eric Blackwell III and (2020) 6’3” Dalen Terry that proved to be the difference.  Blackwell scored 14 points including a pair of 3’s plus came away with 7 rebounds while Terry chipped in 5 points and 5 rebounds.  Terry’ stats may not look that impressive but he was solid on defense boxing out much, much bigger and mature players.  The performance of these two young men was very impressive indeed (especially when you consider the game was played in Gila River Arena with 3-4,000 fans).

Chavez trailed by only two at half (37-35), but constant foul trouble seemed to disrupt their team chemistry in the final 16 minutes.  This was my first look at the Phoenix area team and they certainly have some size and talent.  (2018) 6’3” Michael Rogers is a load at 230 pounds and when he takes it to the basket, look out.  He also has a nice handle and an outside game.  Rogers finished with 19 points.  (2018) 6’3” Kaleb Martin is athletic and has a nice flow to his game.  Martin scored 17 points but foul trouble limited his playing time.  (2018) 6’6” Isaac Williams is another big body (230 lbs.) and caused a lot of trouble in the paint on the defensive end.  (2017) 6’8” Demond Hart also was a presence in the paint defensively with 11 rebounds and bunch of blocks.  He looked athletic and should find a place after graduation (at least starting at the Junior College level). 

(Chandler)  Basha   43    (Phoenix) Desert Vista   38

In the other 6A semi-final game, it was a war on the hardwood floor over the NHL Coyote’s ice in the Gila River Arena.  Basha (29-1) is successful because they focus on stopping their opponent, but Desert Vista (19-6) came prepared to match the Bears’ intensity. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a “pretty” game to watch.  Numerous turnovers, both forced and unforced, plagued the game and I’m not sure the talent of some of the players had a chance to be showcased.

(2017) 6’7” Gabe McGlothan (ARMY SIGNEE) was once again the foundation for Basha.  McGlothan scored 19 points but his contribution on the boards and defensively in the paint stood out.  McGlothan has a nice mid-range game, but his strength is rebounding.  I believe he’ll prove he can rebound effectively at the mid-major level over the next few years at Army.

(2017) Terrell Brown (NORTHERN ARIZONA SIGNEE – football) is a wonderful athlete who is hard to stop going to the basket (11 points) and plays all-out on the defensive end.  I think he could be a two-sport guy at NAU.  His outside shot is a little different, but he’s effective.

(2018) 6’3” Brennan Davis has been under my radar in the games I’ve seen him this year.  With McGlothan and Brown drawing a lot of attention, I think I missed a future D1 player.  Davis really, I mean really, gets after it defensively and is a steal machine.  The long, athletic guard scored only five points, but he made life very difficult for Desert Vista’s guards either straight-up on the ball or in the passing lanes.

The Thunder’s (2017) 6’6” Caleb Simmons kept them in the game scoring 19 points while his other heralded teammates struggled against the Basha defenders.  Simmons is a great athlete who can do it all.  He has a nice stroke from deep and he can go off the dribble.  He battled inside but his efforts were simply not enough on this night.  I haven’t heard anything about his opportunities at the next level, but Simmons can play.

5A Semi-finals:

(Phoenix)  Apollo   76    (Scottsdale) Chaparral   62

When the Hawks guard combo of (2017) 6’ Holland (Boo) Woods (PORTLAND STATE SIGNEE) and 6’ Dre Marin (SOUTHERN UTAH) are firing on both cylinders, few teams can match Apollo’s (26-3) firepower.  Fortunately for Chaparral (22-7), at least for all but the final 10 minutes, only Marin was on his game as his running-mate struggled.  That is, for all but those final 10 minutes!  And, what 10 minutes it was as Woods scored 19 of his 22 points to turn a tight game into a route.

Marin led all scorers with 29 points going 9 for 18 from the field and 10 for 11 at the foul-line.  Apollo thrives on the 3-point shot, but in this game at Grand Canyon University Arena they struggled going 2 or 10 in the first half.

Chaparral came ready to play, particularly (2017) 6’1” Colton Kresl as his perimeter shooting and drives kept the Firebirds in the lead until those final 10 minutes.  Unfortunately, foul trouble keep Kresl on the bench for all but four minutes of the second half.  There wasn’t much contact on either of his final two fouls.  Kresl is an outstanding shooter off the dribble or on the catch who seems to have gained some upper body strength since the last time I saw play six weeks ago.  I won’t be surprised if he lands several D1-offers this spring. 

(Phoenix) Sunnyslope   69       (Peoria) Liberty   38

There was certainly no surprise here as the Vikings (26-4) have been ranked either #1 or #2 all season in 5A and are now are looking ahead to the championship game with Apollo.  It won’t be an easy task as Apollo has beaten them twice in tightly contested games.

(2018) 6’5” Chris Orozco once again showed why he’ll be one of the top interior players in The Valley of the Sun next season compiling 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Orozco is a big strong kid who has pretty good interior skills at both ends of the court; not the most athletic big kid you’ll see but he never gives up when the ball is in the air.

(2018) 6’4” Kyle Fischer is a great complimentary player to Orozco as he has solid ball handling skills and can stretch the defense opening things up for Orozco inside.  Fischer was a stats-stuffer in this game going for 11 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks.  Those kinds of stats will get him some looks this summer and next year by D1 recruiters.

Liberty plays ‘shifts’ of players, but that strategy wasn’t effective on this night.  For their credit, the Lions did win three early round games, the first tournament victories in the school’s history.

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