Welcome to the unofficial start of the boys basketball season in Southern Arizona, with games dotting the schedule leading up to the holiday break.
The Catalina Foothills Falcons, fresh off a run to the 4A semifinal round under longtime coach Doug D’Amore, are 4-1, with wins over Mountain View and Sunnyside this season.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados and Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks look reenergized under first-year coaches Jason Apodaca and Le’Sean Marks, with the Dorados posting a 3-1 record, while the Nighthawks are 3-3.
The Marana Tigers are 4-3 under fellow first-year coach Sean Roebuck, with a win over Walden Grove to their credit.
The Mountain View Lions are still trying to find their footing, posting a 2-4 record, despite falling to Catalina Foothills, 72-53 on Nov. 27, before rolling over the Tigers, 76-56 on Thursday.
The Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions have raced out of the gates, with a 6-1 record that includes back-to-back wins over Florence and Flowing Wells on the road last week.
There has been a plethora of quality performances from players at each school, with a few standing out.
Here are the performances that stand out the most from last week’s hardwood action:
3. Tyler Lerew — Canyon del Oro junior power forward
Stats: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists (74-63 win over Desert View)/19 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists (79-72 win over Ironwood Ridge)
Lerew was a one-man wrecking crew in the paint for Apodaca’s squad on Thursday night, burying seven points from the free throw line in the game’s second half to propel the Dorados past their district rivals. The 6’2 junior looks the part, as a versatile rebound-swallowing, jump shot making forward—giving Apodaca an offensive cog to build his offense around.
2. Jared Clark — Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior guard
Stats: 23 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists (65-62 win over Florence)/34 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists (68-59 win over Flowing Wells)
Clark has been a one-man scoring machine for the Lions this season, jumpstarting the team’s offense and guiding the squad to an impressive 6-1 record. The 5’11 senior is having a heck of a start to his final high school campaign, averaging 18.6 points, 6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game this season, as the Lions look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The wiry senior appears to be a bona fide stud at the point guard position, giving fans a reason to flock to the loveably undersized gymnasium at the Oro Valley school this winter.
1. Carson James — Catalina Foothills senior guard
Stats: 23 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds
James has been as good as advertised this season for the Falcons, with an unmatched offensive skillset that allows him to cut through defenses with ease, while shutting down opposing players on the defensive end. The future Johns Hopkins University product scored 24 points against Mountain View in the team’s opener, showing the scoring touch that allowed him to be the Falcons’ second-leading scorer as a junior, behind Stanford Cardinal commit Sam Beskind. Expect more of the same from the steely-eyed senior, guiding the Falcons to another deep playoff run this season.