Basketball section tournaments set to begin
Division I Section I
No. 7 Cibola (13-4) vs.
No. 2 Westview (18-0)
7:30 p.m. today
No. 8 Kofa (13-4) vs.
No. 1 St. Mary’s (17-0)
7:30 p.m. today
No. 6 Cibola (15-3) vs.
No. 3 Westview (15-3)
5:45 p.m. Wednesday
Division IV Section I
No. 3 Yuma Catholic (17-1)
vs. No. 6 Phoenix Christian (10-8)
5:45 p.m. Wednesday
Raymond S. Kellis HS
One area boys basketball team is heading into its section tournament as a favorite.
Another has to get a win in order to make the state tournament. In the meantime, two girls basketball teams are clinging for dear life to their spot at the state tournament.
Welcome to the wacky world of the Arizona Interscholastic Association basketball playoffs.
In the opening round of the Division I Section I girls tournament, No. 7 Cibola faces No. 2 Avondale-Westview at 7:30 today at Tolleson High and No. 8 Kofa is matched up against No. 1 St. Mary's at 7:30 today at Westview.
On Wednesday, the No. 6 Cibola boys play No. 3 Westview at 5:45 p.m. at Tolleson High in the Division I Section I tournament, and No. 3 Yuma Catholic takes on No. 6 Phoenix Christian at 5:45 p.m. at Glendale-Raymond S. Kellis High in the Division IV Section I tournament.
The Kings (13-4) had a whirlwind final week, going a perfect 3-0 to overtake Lake Havasu — which went 0-3 — to secure the final playoff spot. Their reward is a meeting with undefeated St. Mary's.
“When you go in as the underdog, your whole mentality is, I don't care. We're just going to play,” Kofa coach Mary Kaye Garcia said. “You can't be scared to play.”
St. Mary's (17-0) had an average margin of victory of 42 points in the regular season and held teams to less than 20 points seven times.
“It's definitely intimidating but there have been times where the underdog beats the bigger school,” said Kofa senior post Jacky Fuentes, who leads the Kings with 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. “But that doesn't mean we're not going to go all out. It's basketball. We're not going to go in scared.”
However, even with a loss it's still be possible for Kofa to make the Division I state tournament — the Yuma Catholic girls are hanging on for a chance at state, too.
Currently, Cibola is No. 23 and Kofa is No. 24 at Division I, and the Shamrocks (11-7) are No. 23 at Division IV. The state tournament's 24-team field is made up of the top four finishers from each section tournament and the next 12 teams with the highest AIA Power Points. If teams below Kofa or Yuma Catholic at the division level pull off an upset and win a game in their section tournament, they could leap over the Yuma-area schools and bump them out of the state tournament.
At Division I, Chaparral (No. 25) is the only team that made the section tournament and is below Kofa. This means that Cibola should be guaranteed a playoff spot and the only way the Kings get knocked out is if Chaparral beats No. 1 Pinnacle in the Division I Section III tournament.
Yuma Catholic, which finished No. 9 at Division IV Section I and didn't make the section tournament, must wait and see if it will still make the state tournament.
“We'd like to know. I think we're going to be in but we're practicing like we're going to be in because we don't want to just sit and wait around,” Yuma Catholic coach Bob McGalliard said.
The same thing happened to the Shamrock girls last season — when they didn't make the section tournament but made state as the No. 23 seed.
A season ago, the Shamrock boys used a dramatic section tournament run to make the state tournament using a freshmen-heavy lineup. This season, though, Yuma Catholic (17-1) is a year older and isn't sneaking up on anybody. Coach Brooks Neumann said his team is more confident and playing as well as it has been all season. Considering the Shamrocks are No. 7 in the state, they still have a chance to get a first-round bye regardless of their performance at the section tournament.
“It's not vital, but it's important,” Neumann said about this week's tournament. “You'd like to win a few games and move up a few spots to make sure you get a bye.”
The Cibola boys, however, do not have such a luxury. Coming into their game against Westview, the Raiders (15-3) are No. 28 in Division I — which means they must get a win over the Knights to get a chance at the state tournament.
“They know, especially the seniors. The seniors know this is their only chance in,” Cibola coach Tim Keller said. “Our last week of practice they were on top of their game. We've been telling them for the past two weeks that they would probably have to win their first section game to get in.”
Westview (15-3) is led by 6-foot-8 junior post Andre Adams, who averages 13.7 points and 10.8 rebounds a game and is the best team the Raiders have faced since their 89-66 loss on Jan. 4 to Dobson, which is No. 5 in Division I Section II.
“If we can hang in that first quarter, I'm pretty sure we can play all four,” Keller said. “My biggest concern is if they come out and play hard in that first quarter and if we make some shots.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881.