Welcome to the final week (pre-holiday break) of boys basketball in the grand state of Arizona, folks.
We’ve reached the point in the year where we can officially look back on the bulk of the non-conference portion of the boys basketball season, gleaning information that’ll help us project who’s legit and who’s a pretender in Southern Arizona.
Last week, we saw the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions continue their red-hot start, beating Phoenix’s Northwest Christian, 76-65, to improve to 9-1 for the year.
We saw the Catalina Foothills Falcons go 1-1 over the week, falling at home to Sabino, 56-52, before trouncing CDO, 71-39 on Thursday to improve to 8-3 for the season.
The Marana Tigers split their games against Maricopa and Casa Grande last week to improve to 7-4 under first-year coach Sean Roebuck.
The Mountain View Lions went 1-2 last week, falling to Casteel and Buena on the road, while beating Pueblo, 60-56 on the road to improve their record to 7-6 this season.
Ironwood Ridge and CDO hit a snag in the road in what both coaches have called a rebuilding year, with the Nighthawks falling to Sahuaro (64-61) and Gilbert (69-40), while the Dorados went 0-3 last week, falling to Cholla (58-47), Catalina Foothills (71-39) and Amphitheater (73-45).
This week’s schedule includes two games for Roebuck’s squad, against Sahuarita on the road on Tuesday night, before hosting Sunnyside on Thursday to close out the first half of the season.
Mountain View, meanwhile, hosts Empire on Wednesday night in its final non-tournament game of the year. The Lions return after the break with a road game against Rincon/University on Jan. 8.
Ironwood Ridge closes out its pre-holiday stretch with a home game against Glendale’s Ironwood High School on Tuesday night.
Without further ado, here were the top individual performances from last week’s boys basketball action:
3. Jared Clark — Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior guard
Stats: 23 points, 5 assists (76-65 win over Northwest Christian)
Clark has been a major cog in the Lions’ surge this season, leading the squad in points per game this season, with 17.2 per game. Clark topped his yearlong average in the team’s lone game of the week, against the Crusaders, connecting on 5-of-9 shots, while hitting 13 of his 16 attempts from the free throw line. Clark’s steady shooting has enabled the Lions to race past their competition out of the gate, winning 9 of the team’s 10 games to-date. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep up his touch after the holiday break, when the Lions start their region schedule in earnest.
2. Will Menaugh — Catalina Foothills sophomore forward
Stats: 19 points (71-39 win over CDO)
Menaugh torched the Dorados in the paint on Thursday night, scoring 12 points in the game’s opening eight-minute quarter, with all six baskets coming within mere feet of the hoop. The 6-foot-10-inch forward has bulked up this season, pulling down at least 6 rebounds (by my count) against the Dorados (the Falcons don’t post their game stats online). Menaugh is a bona fide prospect at the center position, with good muscle and speed to go along with his impressive size at such a young age. Expect the center to get a lot of love from the recruiting services in the coming years, should he continue to polish his offensive game under coach Doug D’Amore in the years to come.
1. Lucas Elliott — Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior forward
Stats: 19 points, 13 rebounds (76-65 win over Northwest Christian)
Elliott’s red-hot senior season continued unimpeded against the Crusaders on Saturday, with the 6’10 center is averaging a double-double this season, with 14.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game to his name through the Lions’ first 10 games. Elliott scored 19 points on Saturday, hitting seven of his 10 field goals, while reaching double digits in four consecutive games. Elliott showed an impressive rebounding acumen on Saturday, with 7 of his 13 boards coming on the offensive end, enabling his team to gain valuable second (and sometimes third) chance points against a talented Northwest Christian squad. Elliott and Clark’s on-court camaraderie has Pusch Ridge out to its best start in years, with a legitimate shot at bringing home the school’s first basketball championship if both can stay healthy.