Five local teams start postseason play tonight
David Schultz has already led one Gila Ridge sport to a first.
Now he's led a different team to another milestone.
After guiding the boys golf team to the school's first region title, the Gila Ridge girls basketball team is making the school's first playoff appearance in a team sport.
The Hawks are one of five local teams - the Kofa and Cibola boys and girls are the others - that will play at 7 p.m. today. All but the Cibola girls are on the road.
The task for Gila Ridge (8-8), however, is a tall one as the No. 16 Hawks open against No. 1 and defending state champ Tolleson (17-2) in the 5A-II State Tournament. The Wolverines feature 5-foot-11 small forward Rebecca Woodberry, listed by ESPN.com as a top 50 prospect at her position and committed to Nebraska.
"Our first goal is always to go 1-0," Schultz said. "Beyond that we are going to play hard for all 32 minutes, to not get down no matter what happens and ultimately we have to take this for what it is. ... We're taking it for the all positives here. We're not looking at the negatives."
Tolleson ended its season with just its second loss, 62-59 to St. Mary's, the No. 1 team in 5A-I. The Wolverines' four previous wins were 82-11, 72-26, 82-27 and 90-16.
But Schultz said he's focused on the positives, like just getting into the postseason and making some Gila Ridge history.
"I honestly don't know how to put into words without being kinda cliche about it," Schultz said. "It really is a big deal for us. It's a big deal to the school. It means a lot to me and the kids because we work hard and everything, but to be the first that's just something that's historic for our school. For golf I was lucky enough to coach the team that won the first region title, and to be the coach of the team that's the first one to go to state, that just means a lot."
The Hawks are one of three GVR girls teams playing today. The Kofa girls earned the No. 15 seed in the 5A-I bracket and will face No. 2 Tucson (17-1). The Kings were led in the regular season by senior guards Amanda Garcia and Ronnie Moreno.
"I'm hoping they look at it going in as playing a 15th seed and come in overconfident and lazy, and we sneak up on them," said Kofa coach Eric Krepps, whose Kings (12-5) finished second to Cibola in the region.
The No. 6 Raiders (14-3) were the only area team, boys or girls, to earn a home game. They'll face No. 11 Glendale-Ironwood in the 5A-II State Tournament
Cibola coach Justin Hager said his team and Ironwood are similar. Each with a tall post player - Cibola's is Sarah Ray, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds and had 12 double-doubles this year. The Raiders also feature GVR all-region player of the year Lawanda Watson, who averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
"We're going to try the control the tempo of the game and win the war on the boards and just execute," Hager said. "We know they play man defense, which we haven't seen in the while. We just come out relaxed and play our game."
The Cibola boys also made the postseason, but the No. 9 Raiders (12-6) will be on the road against No. 8 Scottsdale-Desert Mountain. The Wolves (10-8) won the first meeting this year 61-54.
The Wolves have a 6-foot-4 swingman, who averaged 20 points per game this year and had a big game against Cibola last time. Guard Asante Larkin will matchup with him this time around.
Cibola missed out on a home game by 40 power points - wins this year were 90 or 95 points each.
"It's a little frustrating," Cibola coach Tim Keller said. "We had a chance to get a home game but we didn't play as well in the second half as we did in the first. We've been playing pretty average in the second half - hopefully we'll break out of it."
The Raiders finished third in the region, behind Lake Havasu and second-place Kofa. The Kings (13-4) earned a No. 11 seed and will face No. 6 Chandler-Basha (15-4).
The Bears have two 6-8 players, plus a 6-7 and a 6-5 player. They averaged 11 offensive rebounds and 69 points per game. The Kings have 6-6 Gilberto Palacio in the middle and not much other height.
"We're going to look to pressure their guards and take away entry passes to the big guys," Kofa coach Danilo Montialli said. "On offense we're going to look to push the ball down court and increase the speed of the game."
Second-round games are Friday for the girls and Saturday for the boys.
• No. 6 Cibola vs. No. 11 Glendale-Ironwood
• No. 16 Gila Ridge at No. 1 Tolleson
• No. 15 Kofa at No. 2 Tucson
• No. 9 Cibola at No. 8 Scottsdale-Desert Mountain
• No. 11 Kofa at No. 6 Chandler-Basha
All games at 7 p.m.