The course of the boys basketball season is taking shape in northwest Tucson, with playoff berths coming into form around the region.
We’ve got less than a month to go before the first round of the state playoffs begins, meaning each game between now and then has extra meaning for all involved.
Last week, we saw the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions, Catalina Foothills Falcons and Mountain View Lions cement their status as playoff teams, with all three winning their games.
All three should be safely into the big dance in their respective divisions, thanks to impressive showings by their best players.
Here are some of the top performances over the past seven days that have sparked each of the aforementioned teams’ playoff dreams:
3. Julian Molina (Mountain View senior guard)
Stats: 24 points (10-10 free throws)
Molina was a one-man wrecking crew for the Lions in their 61-54 win over the Rincon/University Rangers on Tuesday, Jan. 10. The high-scoring senior dialed it in during the game’s latter half, scoring 20 points in the final two quarters to finish with 24 for the game, hitting all 10 of his free throw attempts. Molina leads the Lions in scoring, with 20.1 points per game this season, and has hit another level with his shooting touch of-late, carrying the team to consecutive wins over the Rangers and Desert View Jaguars over the last seven days.
2. Carson James (Catalina Foothills senior guard)
Stats: 25 points, 8 steals, 7 rebounds (vs. Vista Grande)/38 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals (vs. Casa Grande)
James has been phenomenal as the senior leader for Doug D’Amore’s Falcons squad this year, with his 25-point performance against Vista Grande High School being the latest example. James was figuratively on fire against the Spartans on Tuesday, Jan. 10, scoring a team-high 25 points, while snatching 8 steals and dishing out 7 assists in an 86-38 victory, before one-upping that in a 76-63 win over Casa Grande on Thursday, Jan. 10, scoring 38 points. The Falcons put their unblemished 3-0 sectional record on the line tonight at 7 p.m. against Salpointe Catholic in a rematch of last year’s 4A semifinals game, presenting James and his teammates with a crucial opportunity to assert themselves as the top dog in 4A not named Shadow Mountain. Expect James to have a big night, as he’s wont to do on such a big stage.
1. Jared Clark (Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior guard)
Stats: 28.3 points per game, 5 assists, 5.7 rebounds per game
Clark had a monumental week, scoring 38, 31 and 16 points in the Lions’ three wins over Catalina Magnet, Sabino and Northwest Christian. The senior torched the first two, to the tune of 38 and 31 points, propelling the squad to double-digit wins in each, before finishing with 16 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in the team’s 64-61 win over the Crusaders in Phoenix on Saturday. Clark and his teammates find themselves ranked second overall in 3A, as of Tuesday morning, with road games against Tanque Verde and 14th-ranked Thatcher on Thursday and Friday night. Don’t be surprised if the senior sharpshooter has another big week for Erik Michaud’s squad, which is rolling along at 15-2 this season.