Welcome to the start of the second season in high school basketball, better known as the state playoffs.
With divisional play-in games slated to tip off on Friday, with the first round of the playoffs scheduled to begin next week.
We’ll see whether the three teams from northwest Tucson that qualified for the play-in round, in Catalina Foothills (4A) and Marana/Mountain View (5A), can make a deep postseason run.
Without further ado, here’s who stood out the most on the court over the past seven days in these parts:
3. Kolby Lathrop (Ironwood Ridge junior forward)
Stats: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists (62-58 win, Sunnyside)
The 6-foot-5-inch forward had a night to remember in the Nighthawks’ four-point victory over Sunnyside on Jan. 29, leading the team in rebounding, while dishing out 6 assists to 1 turnover in the victory. Lathrop should be a centerpiece for LeSean Marks’ as he tries to resurrect the Nighthawks program, averaging 11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as a junior. Lathrop could be a sleeper Division I prospect if he’s able to add some pounds to his frame and continue honing his craft inside the paint. Keep an eye on the IRHS junior, as he’s a talent to remember in Oro Valley.
2. Will Menaugh (Catalina Foothills sophomore forward)
Stats: 20 points, 9 rebounds (72-60 win, Salpointe Catholic)
Menaugh might be the best center in the city, measuring in at a whopping 6’9 as a sophomore, with an interior scoring presence that’s unmatched at this level. The underclassmen put on a display of athleticism and acumen against Salpointe Catholic on Friday night, leading the Falcons in scoring and rebounding, in a 12-point victory over their longtime rivals. Menaugh dominated the Lancers’ inside the paint, showing once again why he’s a bona fide prospect that should be plenty of attention from colleges in a few years. It’ll be interesting to see how tall the sophomore ends up, and whether he can expand his offensive game beyond the paint. If he’s able to do so, then Menaugh will be a force to be reckoned with for opponents over the next two seasons.
1. Jared Clark (Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior guard)
Stats: 26 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists (62-60 win, Sahuarita)/27 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists (65-40 win, Tanque Verde)
No team in Tucson has been a better Cinderella story than Erik Michaud’s Pusch Ridge squad, which went from 10-16 last season to 22-4 this year. A main reason for the Lions’ meteoric rise has been the steady hand and deft scoring touch of senior guard Jared Clark, who is averaging 18.8 points per game this season, while hitting 44 percent of his shots this season. Clark’s senior season to remember continued unimpeded last week, when he dominated Sahuarita and Tanque Verde, propelling the Lions to back-to-back victories. He’ll be tasked with doing more of the same against Safford on the road on Friday night, in the team’s final tune-up before their playoff run takes hold. It’ll be interesting to see whether Clark can continue his red-hot shooting stats during the postseason and whether the Lions can make a deep run in the playoffs this year. Keep an eye on this young man, as he’s going to have a heck of a career, wherever he winds up playing in college.