Home Editor's Picks Girls basketball preview: 9 all-region players return

Girls basketball preview: 9 all-region players return

The Red Mountain girls basketball team is the only area ranked team in the 6A coaches poll. (Courtesy of Red Mountain girls basketball Twitter)

The squeak of sneakers, and the thunder of dribbling has been echoing in gyms since Halloween as tryouts led to roster cuts, then scrimmages, and finally to games this week.

The girls basketball season is underway with the seven area teams all wanting to make the postseason.

It’s the expectation for some, the hope for others and even a dream for one or two.

Two teams – Red Mountain and Mesa – made the 6A Conference playoffs in the first year of the new classification system, while Dobson made the play-in tournament.

Can more teams make a push in 2017-18?

Red Mountain looks to be the top team in the area and could put together a good enough season to earn a top eight seed and possibly the first team since the 2014-2015 Dobson squad, which went on to win the state title, to make it to at least the quarterfinals.

“We should (contend) for the region,” Long-time coach Mark Appel said. “We look to make a deep run in the state playoffs.”

Here is a look at each team entering the season:

Desert Ridge

Coach: Erin O’Brian

Last year’s record: 8-19, second year

Record over 10 years: 107-165 (39.3 percent)

Top players: Sentia Bryant, Sr., center, Irelyn Humphries, Fr., guard, Abby Montgomery, Sr., forward.

Comment/Notes: Last year’s eight-win season was the fifth time in the last 10 years the Jaguars failed to win at least 10 games. In the other five, Desert Ridge averaged 15.0 wins per season including a high of 20 in 2009-10. … The Jags will have one of the bigger front courts with the 6-foot-1 Bryant and 5-10 Montgomery and 5-10 Samantha Wattawa. … Desert Ridge began the year with a 61-52 loss to Leading Edge Academy in the Highland Thanksgiving tournament. … Bryant averaged a double-double last season at 12.7 points and 12.8 rebounds to earn All-Central Region honorable mention honors.


Coach: Henry Bribiescas, third season

Last year’s record: 20-9

Record over 10 years: 231-84 (73.3)

Top players: Amaya Leon, Sr., guard.

Comment/Notes: Over the last 10 years the Mustangs won at least 20 games seven times and no less than 15. … Dobson began the season with a 54-39 win over Cactus Shadows at the Thanksgiving Holiday Classic at Mountain Pointe. … The Mustangs have to replace two All-East Valley Region picks on Shauna Bribiescas and Rayonna Seamster. …  Leon was an honorable mention All-EV region selection after averaging 6.5 points and 2.1 steals.


Coach: Katie Fonseca, first season

Last year’s record: 17-12

Record over 10 years: 121-155 (43.8)

Top players: Eliza Heiney, Sr., post, Ariana Scoval-Tavares, Jr., guard.

Comment/Notes: Mesa opened the year at the Mountain Pointe tourney with a 39-27 win over Coolidge. … Heiney was a second-team All-East Valley Region pick, while Scoval-Tavares was an honorable mention pick. … The Jackrabbits will play in the Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic at Arcadia starting on Dec. 28. … Mesa is looking for its fifth straight winning season after a pretty bad stretch between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

Mountain View

Coach: William Guthrie, third season

Last year’s record: 2-24

Record over 10 years: 187-106 (63.8 percent)

Top players: Maianalani Ta’ase, Soph., guard; Tilly Klepinger, Soph., guard; Jasmine Dightmon, Sr., forward.

Comment/Notes: The 48 combined losses the last two seasons were more than the previous six seasons combined (47). … Ta’ase was a second-team all-region selection made more impressive by the fact the coaches chose honor someone from a two-win team. … The Toros opened the season at the 2017 Turkey Shootout and lost 41-38 to Basha. … Ta’ase, Klepinger and Dightmon were named captains.

Red Mountain

Coach: Martin Appel, 20 years

Last year’s record: 19-9

Record over last 10 years: 145-135

Top players: Amaya West, Sr., forward; Jacquelyn Ries, Jr., guard; Samantha Shoemake, Jr., guard.

Comments/Notes: West averaged 13.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.7 steals last year and is headed to University of Nevada-Reno; “We don’t have a lot of depth in regard to post players,” Appel said. “The players we have at that position are solid; just not a lot of depth. … Both West and Ries were All-Region first-team selections last year.


Coach: Chiniqua Bright, second season

Last year’s record: 8-19

Record over 10 years: 84-165 (33.7 percent)

Top players: Sierra Martin, Jr., guard; Uriah Matus, Jr., guard.

Comment/Notes: The last 20-win season came in 2006-07 and the last winning record was just two seasons ago when the Warriors went 16-12.  … The Coyotes will be bolstered by a couple of transfers in junior Shaylee Scabby (Mountain View) and junior Savannah Montgomery (Red Mountain). … “We hope to be in the upper third of the East Valley Region and hopefully make the state tournament at the 6A level for the first time in school history.” … Martin was an honorable mention All-Region East Valley pick last season.


Coach: Glenda Skalitzky, fifth season

Last year’s record: 10-16

Record over 10 years: 112-158 (41.5)

Top players: Maggie Makil, Jr., guard, Sydney Carlos, Soph., guard, Abrielle John, Soph., guard.

Comment/Notes: The Warriors have had two winnings season (2010-11 and 2011-12) and one .500 season over the last 10 years. … Last year’s roster featured one two seniors so plenty of experience returns this year, including six seniors. … Makil was a second-team All-East Valley Region pick last season … The Warriors open the season Tuesday, Nov. 28 against Cibola and the head to Sedona for the Red Rock Classic.

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

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