Tuesday evening saw two of the top boy's teams in the Division-II Class face off as Sunnyslope HS (13-4) hosted Paradise Valley (16-2).
Both teams have been very good this season and also very well coached. Long-time successful head coach Mark MacGowan has his best team in years, while second-year head coach Ray Portela has done an excellent job in continuing the excellent basketball tradition left by former head coach Dan Mannix.
Paradise Valley entered the game as winners of their last three games - led by the top junior prospect in Arizona's 2013 class, 6-foot-6 junior forward Paul Watson. Sunnyslope had won their last 7 games and also the championship of the Northwest Holiday Tournament over the holidays.
Sunnyslope's 6-foot-2, 165-pound senior guard Bryce Gosar has been on fire this high school season, and Paradise Valley looked to slow him down in the game, as Watson guarded Gosar the majority of the game.
Both Gosar and Watson would play very well for their teams early, but Gosar would give his team an early lead after the first period, 15-9, after Gosar would score a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer.
With Gosar on the bench to start the second period, Watson would take over the game and Paradise Valley would take back the game's lead, 19-17, with 4:23 left to play in the first half.
Paradise Valley 6-foot-1 junior Brodie Cunningham would score consecutive baskets, a three-pointer and a mid-range jumper to give his team a 28-23 lead with :43 seconds left to play in the half.
Gosar would keep Sunnyslope close late in the half, until a no-look pass from Watson to 5-foot-10 sophomore Brandon Williams under the basket at the buzzer would give PV a 30-27 halftime lead.
After halftime, Watson would start the half for his team with a strong one-handed dunk over a defender after being fouled. The three-point play would put PV up 33-29.
A driving layup from Gosar would tie the score at 33 with 6:06 left in the third.
Brodie Cunningham would then convert consecutive three-pointers in transition for PV to give his team a 5-point lead - 40-35.
But Sunnyslope would climb right back after a 35-foot desparation three-pointer at the buzzer by 5-foot-11 junior guard Isaiah Cota. Cota's three-pointer would make the score 47-46 in Paradise Valley's favor after three quarters.
Both teams would exchange the lead consistently throughout the fourth period, until late in the game when 6-foot-5 junior forward Ryan Finley would grab an offensive rebound and score the putback for his team to make it a one-point game, 58-57, Sunnyslope.
With a one-point lead, Sunnyslope's Gosar would go to the free-throw line after being fouled on the in-bounds play. Gosar would convert 1 of 2 free throws - giving his team a 59-57 lead with 32.8 seconds to play.
After a timeout by PV's MacGowan, the Trojans would draw up a play. After inbounding the basketball, PV would find 6-foot senior guard Daniel Lopez open at the top of the key. Lopez would connect on a three-pointer to give his team a one-point lead, 60-59.
After a timeout, Sunnyslope would get the basketball to Gosar. Gosar would miss an 18-foot jumper from the corner over the outstretched hands of a defender as the buzzer sounded.
Final score - 60-59, Paradise Valley.
Paul Watson would finish with a team-high 20 points in the win, while Bryce Gosar would lead Sunnyslope with a game-high 27 points in the loss.
These two teams will meet again this week on Friday at Paradise Valley.