While the high school basketball playoff season is in full swing, it’s time to pick apart the season that was for the six programs in north Tucson, finding the stars that shined brightest during the year.
It’s a stacked list, but one that featured a token few that deserve special recognition for the effort they’ve shown throughout the year.
Here are the top three players from those six programs: Canyon del Oro, Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, Marana and Mountain View High Schools, and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy:
Lucas Elliott, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior center
13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.2 blocks
Elliott is a freak of nature in the high school game, providing unmatched size in the paint, at 6 feet 9 inches, while featuring a deft shooting touch for a player of his height. Elliott finished the year averaging a double-double, while racking up an impressive 4.2 blocks per game for Erik Michaud’s squad. He’s worthy of receiving acclaim for his year-to-date, but just missed out on reaching the top three spots on this list.
3. Jared Clark, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior guard
19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Clark has been one of the breakout stars in the state this season, with a deft shooting touch and surprising ability to snag rebounds for a young man that’s 5 feet 11 inches tall. Clark is shooting 49 percent from the field this year, hitting 39 percent of his shots from behind the arc—incredible numbers for a kid at this level. The senior has scored in double figures in all but four of the Lions’ 27 games this season, speaking to his invaluable impact on Michaud’s squad, which went from 10-16 to 23-4 in a season, thanks to the efforts of seniors like Clark. His college career will thrive, given his ability to find space and make open and contested shots, wherever he may take the court in the future.
2. Julian Molina, Mountain View senior guard
18.5 points per game (rebounds and assists per game not listed)
Molina is one of the best volume scorers in the high school game, averaging 17.0 points per game over his three-year varsity career. Molina’s yearlong average has gone up in each season, from 11.3 as a sophomore to 18.2 last year and 18.5 this season. The 6 foot senior can fill it up from anywhere on the court, as he showed in last Thursday’s 5A play-in round, when he scored 15 points, propelling the Lions to a 75-71 victory over Cienega on the road. Molina’s college choice, like Clark’s, is not known as of now, but he’ll thrive at the next level, simply because of his dead-on shooting touch and his drive to win at all costs.
1. Carson James, Catalina Foothills senior guard
22.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game
The future Johns Hopkins guard has put up a senior campaign to remember, torching opposing defenses all year long en route to another playoff run. James has been a one-man scoring machine over the past two seasons for coach Doug D’Amore. This year’s campaign was no exception. James’ performance in Friday’s play-in round destruction of Bradshaw Mountain didn’t look great on paper, with 8 points in a 38-point win, but he did the little things right, while letting his teammates carry the load in a one-sided affair. James has shown exceptional leadership qualities, guiding a youthful Falcons squad into the state playoffs for a fourth-straight season. Expect big things in college, as James takes his act to Baltimore to play for one of the highest scoring squads in the Division III level.
The girls basketball three stars will run next week.