The Division-I state playoffs have been in full swing this week with the first round and second rounds taking place across the state. Saturday night saw 8 different playoff match-ups, with each game being held on the home floor of the higher seeded team. As a result of Saturday evening's contests, we now have our state quarterfinal match-ups for the Division-I Class. #1 seed Corona Del Sol, #2 seed Mesa, #3 seed Basha HS, #4 seed Gilbert HS, #5 seed Mesa Mountain View, #8 seed Sunnyslope HS, #10 seeded St. Mary's HS and #22 seed Pinnacle HS.
With many of the top-seeded teams still remainning in this year's state playoffs for the Division-I Class, it will make for some very interesting match-ups down the stretch. For the first time in many years, the division is wide open for anyone's taking this season. For the last four straight years, the legendary Corona Del Sol Aztecs have run the table - absolutely destroying their competition annually. But after the departure of superstar post talent Marvin Bagley before the start to the season, Corona became human, as their competition saw a major crack in their armour.
While the Aztecs lost Bagley, their dynamic junior backcourt duo of Alex Barcello and Saben Lee has been magnificent this high school season - leading the Corona to an 8-1 record in their section this season. Corona is 16-8 overall, but they have played against some serious competition this season, national competition.
Corona came into this year's state playoffs as the #1 seed in the state playoffs, and after a first-round bye, Corona blew past Mountain Pointe on Saturday evening, 78-58. Corona would jump out to a quick 22-13 lead in the first period and not look back in the game. Corona would utilize a 22-12 third period to pull away in the contest. Corona will now face Sunnyslope High School in the quarterfinals, after Sunnyslope defeated Chandler HS, 75-53 Saturday evening at home.
Sunnyslope is loaded with a group of players that love the game. They are always very well coached by Ray Portela and his staff, and this year's team, while young, plays hard and knows how to play. Sunnyslope has been on a tear this high school season - putting together an impressive 23-4 record this season. The Vikings have won many big games this season and over a lot of strong competition, so Saturday evening was nothing unique for this group, as they blew out Chandler at home.
It will be a very exciting match-up between these two teams in the quarterfinals, and if any team in the state can match up with Corona's stellar guards, Sunnyslope is the one team that can, as their guard play is very good. In fact, the whole team is filled with guards. You won't want to miss this game, as it should be very fast-paced.
Mountain Ridge HS (19-9) was the state's top overall ranked team in the Division-I Class at one point in the high school season, but they were very inconsistent this high school season as a team. After losing many games this high school season, their season would end Saturday evening after a very surprising home playoff loss to St. Mary's High School, 54-52 in overtime. St. Mary's (18-11) has played excellent of late - winning their last (4) games in a row against stiff competition. After defeating Basha on the road, the Knights would blow out Chaparral at home before their big match-up with Mountain Ridge Saturday evening. Led by the play of 6-foot-10 sophopmore KJ Hymes and 6-foot-5 junior forward Deshawn Wilson, the Knights are playng their best basketball at the right time of the season.
St. Mary's will have to face a dominant Mesa HS team next though. Mesa (24-4) is very well-coached by Shane Burcar and his staff, and they are very focused to win it all this season - my favorite to win the division. After also receiving a first-round bye, Mesa absolutely blew out #15 seed Desert Ridge on Saturday evening, 61-37. The Jackrabbits have a very balanced team of post players and guards, and their ability to defend as a team makes it tough for opposing teams to generate offense.
Pinnacle High School is the Cinderella team of sorts in this year's state playoffs. Pinnacle (12-15) is loaded with some young talented prospects and also a nice combination of senior-led talent, as 6-foot-7 senior post A.J. Elliot (Point Loma signee) and 6-foot-9 senior forward Nik Mains (Air Force signee) lead the way. Pinnacle defeated Perry HS on the road on Saturday evening, 57-51 - Pinnacle's biggest win of the season. They will face a talented Basha HS team on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
#3 seed Basha blew out upset-minded Boulder Creek on Saturday evening, 68-45. Boulder Creek was looking for another huge upset win, after knocking off Highland HS in the first round.
Gilbert HS and Mesa Mountain View HS will meet up again in this year's state playoffs, after both teams advanced Saturday evening with nice wins. Mesa Mountain View easily defeated Hamilton 54-33, but it took overtime for Gilbert HS to pull away from Dobson at home, 74-65. These two teams always make for an exciting match-up, so Wednesday's quarterfinal match-up shouldn't be any different.
Each of our quarterfinal teams will face off on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena with games beginning at 2:30PM and the final game tipping off at 7:45PM.