There were clutch shots, big plays in crunch time, records, milestones and more statements were made in Week 8 of the Arizona high school basketball season.
The ageless Gary Ernst still is on top of his game, leading Mesa Mountain View, where he picked up his 900th career win in a double-overtime win over Mesa. This is Ernst’s 45th season as a head coach. Nobody has won as many games as he has in Arizona. His team is 9-5 and in first place at 3-0 in the 6A East Valley Region. There may have been vast changes in the high school sports landscape over the last four decades, but Ernst has never compromised his principles. He still gets players to overachieve and win in the midst of the what-can-you-do-for-me now era.
Globe senior guard B.J. Burries posted a photo of himself on Facebook as a 12-year-old with Mike Bibby a day after he passed Bibby’s 3,002 career high school points in a win at rival San Carlos, where Burries had 39 points. Burries moved into second place in Arizona’s all-time scoring list with 3,032 points, 122 points away from Corey Hawkins’ state record that he set while playing for Goodyear Estrella Foothills in 2010. Burries dreamed of some day catching Bibby’s mark. Now he’s got more goals, as he leaves the week averaging 36.6 points, fourth-best in the nation.
On Friday night, Gilbert senior guard Haley Cavinder reached the 2,000-point plateau in her remarkable career in an 88-22 rout of Queen Creek Casteel. Her twin sister, Hanna, who averaged 28 points during the week, is only 102 points away from 2,000.
Best crunch-time performance
Phoenix Brophy Prep trailed Gilbert Perry for much of Tuesday’s game, but during crunch time, senior guard Marques White took over. He scored on three consecutive slashing drives around defenders to the basket in the final 45 seconds to send the game into overtime. In the third OT, Perry was ready for White again to drive the middle of the lane in the last 35 seconds after Jalen Williams had tied the game. Instead, White, as he drew a double team while driving, got the ball out to the corner for Ethan Smith to drain a 3-pointer and give the Broncos a 71-68 win. White scored 14 of his 16 points in the final quarter and the three four-minute OT periods.
Phoenix Pinnacle senior point guard Nico Mannion draws more attention than any player in the state. So with Peoria Liberty trying to keep him from scoring, Mannion found another way to impact Pinnacle’s 30-point rout. He continually found senior guard Trent Brown behind the arc. Brown couldn’t miss. He broke Mannion’s single-game school record with 10 3-pointers. Mannion had nine 3s in a game last year. Meanwhile, Mannion set a school record with 15 assists, as Brown poured in 43 points.
Best girls record
Scottsdale Christian senior Kylie Hearns is a score-first point guard. But in a win over ASU Prep, she was pass-first and it gave her the single-game state record for assists with 22. That record includes all conferences in girls basketball. Coach Bob Fredericks, who does double duty leading both the boys and girls basketball programs, said Hearns’ record was impressive because she is known as a scoring guard and had her teammates involved throughout the game. Hearns still wound up with 16 points.
Best sudden surge
San Tan Valley Combs can celebrate something it didn’t have at all last year – two region wins. Last year, the boys basketball team went 0-10 in region play. This year, it is 2-1 and in second place in the 4A Black Canyon Region. The Coyotes are 6-14 overall, but they’ve won three in a row, behind senior guard Austin Prater, who had nine 3-pointers in wins over Glendale and Phoenix Cortez.
Best breakout game
Phoenix Shadow Mountain freshman guard DeVontes Cobbs takes a back seat to senior guards Jaelen House and Jovan Blacksher. But in a 52-point win over Phoenix Thunderbird, it was the freshman’s turn to stand out. He had 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. He is one of the best freshman players in the state, but Shadow Mountain is a senior-dominated team so it is hard to get a lot of chances to show off what he can do. Assistant coach Mike Warren believes Cobbs “would be a 20-point scorer” on some other teams.
In a battle of the Ahwatukee schools, the capacity crowd at Phoenix Desert Vista got to see two of the best big men – Mountain Pointe 6-foot-10 senior Jalen Graham (committed to ASU) and Desert Vista 6-9 junior Osasere Ighodaro – battle. Graham had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds. But Igdoharo had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and twice dribbled the ball from near half-court past Graham for dunks that had Desert Vista’s student section cheering wildly. Graham is established. If Ighodaro can put more games like that together, his recruiting will enter the major-college realm. He was active on the glass and on defense, showed good ball-handling skills and was aggressive the whole night in attack mode.
Best upcoming game
Pinnacle (16-3, 3-0) plays at Scottsdale Chaparral (15-4, 4-0) on Tuesday night in a 6A Desert Valley Region game that should bring out the students. These are two of the state’s best student sections. Mannion’s star power against Chaparral’s improved all-around play should make this an interesting game.
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