This week’s Arizona high school basketball Thanksgiving tournaments gave a glimpse of what lies ahead this season, as the shot clock took center stage and star players emerged.
Gilbert Perry is as advertised, a top-25 team in the Nation that will find few if any challenges this season. Maybe next Tuesday’s game at Peoria Liberty will be the test the Defending 6A state Champion Pumas will need. The first few days of Gilbert’s Welcome to the Jungle tournament showed the devastating one-two punch that 6-foot-8 sophomore Koa Peat and 6-8 senior Cody Williams can leave on teams. At the blink of an eye, they put away Mesa Eastmark and won easily 85-31, as Peat scored 17 points in the first half. Coach Sam Duane Jr., had the bench replaced after a few minutes into the second half. Perry then sprinted out to an 18-0 lead after one quarter on Tuesday, then scored 26 points in the second quarter and 23 in the third in a 77-21 rout of Mesa Desert Ridge. On Wednesday, the Pumas cruised past Tempe Corona del Sol 82-27, as Williams had 23 points and six assists, Peat had 15 points and seven rebounds, and guard Barron Silsby had 13 points. They were scheduled to conclude the showcase at 5 pm, Friday against Queen Creek Casteel.
“The biggest thing right now is our guys are really sharing the ball, finding the open guy, really playing for each other,” Duane said.
Perry’s length, versatility and the complementary pieces around the two 5-star recruits are what makes this team special. They’ve all been very unselfish, too. Ben Egbo and D’Andre Harrison are very athletic, crash the boards and get down the court fast to finish in transition. They defend really well at all five positions.
And the 35-second shot clock, being used this year for the first time by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, will only make Perry that much more exciting to watch on both ends of the court because teams are going to try to work the shot clock down . With Perry’s length, there are going to be a lot of shot-clock violations against Perry, as teams try to force shots before it winds down.
“I thought it was good,” Duane said of the shot clock on the first day, which started Perry on a 15-0 run to begin against Eastmark.
“We’re used to the shot clock,” Williams said. “A lot of our players have played with it (during AAU games). And we use it in practice, so we’re used to it.”
What does Williams like most about the team?
“Everyone can score,” said the Colorado commit.
It’s startling to see Peoria put up 100 points on Phoenix Mountain Pointe in a 47-point Rout on the first day of the Nike Showdown held at Goodyear Millennium High School. But when you see how depleted Mountain Pointe’s roster got due to top players leaving, you can understand why. Tru Washington and Mark Brown left for local prep academies. The Patton Brothers moved to California. There are a couple of players waiting to become eligible. A team that at one point in June figured to give Perry a run for the first Open Division state Championship is now just trying to be competitive.
But also give Peoria credit. This could be Coach Patrick Battillo’s best team, which likely will be playing for an Open Division final eight spot, another new twist added for the high school Playoffs this season by the AIA. A key driver will be guard Andrew Camacho, who dropped 36 points on Mountain Pointe. He was just warming up. Peoria beat Buckeye Verrado 83-34 the next day with Camacho scoring 45 points. The Panthers were scheduled to play Goodyear Trivium Prep today at 4 pm, and finish against host Millennium at 7 Saturday night.
“Drew is playing with a purpose and doing all that is needed to help our team be successful,” Battillo said. “It isn’t just about his scoring, but his overall IQ of the game, defense, and leadership.
“When we move the ball really well as a team, great things happen.”
Calvin Windley and Caden Bass surround Camacho, making this a dynamic team that gets after it for 36 minutes. Windley had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Bass had 22 points and five rebounds against Mountain Pointe.
“Calvin and Drew are tough to handle together and create for each other,” Battillo said.
Best early impact
Is it too soon to get excited about Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s basketball team? The Wolves have gotten a jump start from the House Brothers − freshmen Kaden and Kalek, 6-3 combo guards. They are the son of former Arizona State and NBA guard Eddie House and brother of Jaelen House, who won four state championship rings playing for Shadow Mountain. Desert Mountain is 2-0 behind the Brothers in Mesa’s Fear the Hop and playing Gilbert Campo Verde at 6 pm, Friday in a semifinal. Kaden House had 22 points in a 55-45 win over 6A runner-up Chandler Hamilton with senior guard Zach Anderson chipping in 11 points. Former Shadow Mountain Coach Mike Bibby’s son, Michael, is an Assistant Coach for the Wolves. Michael Bibby is a first cousin to the House brothers.
American Leadership Academy Gilbert North, which moved from 3A to 4A this year, stunned host and 6A Mesa 57-51 on the first day of the Fear The Hop, then reached Friday’s semifinal against 4A Champion Gilbert Mesquite with a 59-57 win over 5A Vail Cienega. Sophomore Dylan Novak is putting on an MVP performance in the tournament. They had 20 points, including 8 of 8 free throws, to beat Mesa, which was ranked No. 7 in 6A in preseason by The Arizona Republic. They followed that up with 15 points against Cienega with McGuire Andrus scoring 20 points to lead the Eagles. Novak is coached by his dad, Dave Novak, who is in his third season leading ALA Gilbert North. This team only gets stronger once the football season ends and highly touted junior wide receiver Brandon Phelps joins the team. Dylan Novak, Andrus and Phelps all made all-region last basketball season when Dylan was the 3A Metro Region Player of the Year.