On February 24th 2016, Arizona’s best boys’ division-II basketball teams met and competed at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Many of the games on the day came down to last second shots, which made it a very entertaining evening of basketball.
The first game of the day had Paradise Valley beating Nogales HS by the score of 52 to 51. The second game on the day featured Sunrise Mountain of Peoria beating Sunnyside of Tucson in double overtime, 80-77. The third game on the evening featured a game-winning shot by Agua Fria, as they beat Catalina Foothills from Tucson 61-59. The night-cap game was not as close, as Shadow Mountain beat Flagstaff by the score of 73-45.
I am looking forward very much to the games on Saturday, as we will see who is crowned as the next Division-II Champion of Arizona.
Of the games I personally saw, here are some of my notes on the top performers on the day:
Already possessing a college-ready frame, Sunrise Mountain’s SF 2016, Elijah Thomas (Saint Mary's College signee) may be the best athlete in the state. He was able to get wherever he wanted to on the floor at all times vs. Sunnyside, and hit many clutch shots down the stretch, as he ran the PG position. He also delivered the game-winning assist to his teammate, as the Sunnyside defenders drew to him, while thinking he was going to take the shot. He has signed his LOI with Saint Mary’s, and will have a very productive 4- year career for the Gaels.
The biggest surprise on the day was 6-foot-4 SG 2017 Jared Erwin from Catalina Foothills. Erwin is a long guard with a very good shooting stroke from all over the court. He knocked down a variety of threes off of screens, and in catch-and-shoot situations. He reminds me of a taller version of former Saguaro and current Cal Baptist standout Ryan Berg. Erwin was very active on the glass all game and also has very good vision in the half court set as well as in transition. He was also very active on defense all game long and accounted for a few steals as well. After tonight’s performance, look for Erwin to be one of the better sleeper prospects in the state of Arizona for the 2017 class.
Agua Fria (27-2) has had a tremendous season as they currently have a record of 27-2 after tonight’s win versus Catalina Foothills (Tucson). One of the big reasons for their success this season is the play of 5-foot-10 2016 PG Jordan Mccants and 6-foot-5 SF 2017 Bryce Fowler. Mccants is a lighting-quick guard who possesses great body control around the rim. He finishes at a high clip inside, due to his ability to shield defenders away using his body, and ability to play thru contact as well. While he does need to improve his outside shooting, Mccants is a excellent free throw shooter, as he knocked down many clutch free throws down the stretch of a very close game.
Fowler is a long stretch 4-man, as his range easily extends out to the 3- point line. He is also a very good defender in the post, as he uses his pure length to detour defenders from taking shots on him. He was also very active on both the offensive and defensive glass all night long, as he got many second-chance points and big rebounds for him and his team.
Shadow Mountain is going to be a very hard team to beat as they looked very good tonight in their convincing win versus Flagstaff. Led by elite 2016 PG Mike Bibby Jr., 2016 SG J.J. Rhymes and 2016 SF Harrison Hillard, this team is one of the most dominant teams that the state of Arizona has seen in quite some time, and the future looks very bright for them as they have two future stars in 2019 PG Javon Blackshear and 2019 CG Jaelen House.