The February Frenzy is upon us as the Arizona high school basketball playoffs get underway this week. The brackets in each division spotlight familiar teams and also some programs who haven’t been relevant in recent seasons brought back into the mix.
Staring with the Division I boys bracket, the road must once again go through the defending state champion Corona del Sol Aztecs. They lost three starters who are not playing Division I athletics at the next level but behind junior point guard Casey Benson, haven’t skipped a beat this season. Quite possibly the hottest team going into the state tournament is the Pinnacle Pioneers who have been on an absolute tear beating Desert Mountain twice and Mesa once on the road to a sectional championship. Since becoming a school in 2000, Pinnacle has had a ton of success on the hardwood but have not been able to get over the hump in the state tournament. Could this be their year? They have to get through a team that has given them a lot of trouble, Chaparral, to do so.
Like in the boys Division I bracket, the girls bracket will have to go through last year’s state champ. The St. Mary’s Knights. Unlike the Corona boys, the Lady Knights have returned their core of players and have been dominant in state once again. A teams that could be in decent position to dethrone them could be the Dobson Mustangs led by Katherine Hamilton. They love to provide pressure on defense full court and get out and run the floor. This senior lead teams has had their sights set on a state championship appearance since last season came to an end.
Sunnyslope has flown under the radar for most of the season in boys Division II but find themselves the top seed. However, they find themselves on the same side of the bracket of two extremely talented teams in the Shadow Mountain Matadors and the Paradise Valley. The freshman-led Matadors and the senior-led Trojans could meet in the elite eight so the winner could make a serious push for the state title. On the bottom part of the bracket, coming up from Tucson with loads and loads of talent is Catalina Foothills who are coming off a sectional title and a win over the number two seed in Division I, Cesar Chavez.
On the girls side of division II, the Lady Bears of Bradshaw Mountain went the entire 2012-13 season unscathed, holding a 21-0 record going into the state tournament. Their junior Kylie Morris and her 15 points per game have the Lady Bears as the team to beat. Flowing Wells from Tucson is a team to keep an eye out for that has been floating under the radar. But the defending champion Seton Catholic Sentinels have other plans as two of the state’s top players, senior Anne Marie Holter and junior Julia Barcello look to four consecutive state titles.
Filling out brackets this time of year is one of my favorite things to do. Below are my full brackets filled out for Divisions I-III for boys and girls.