CASA GRANDE — While Pinal County had some high-level boys basketball players this season, Quest Williams stood out above the rest.
For that reason, Williams, a senior guard at Poston Butte, is the 2019-20 PinalCentral Boys Basketball Player of the Year. He averaged 23 points and 4.9 rebounds, leading the Broncos (15-12) to the play-in round of the 4A state playoffs. He shot 54% from the field and 38% from 3-point range.
Part of what makes a player great is his or her ability to lift teammates and contribute to team success. By that measure, Williams was indispensable to Poston Butte.
No one else on the team averaged double figures in scoring, and Williams accounted for more than 38% of his team’s points.
“He is absolutely the heartbeat of the team,” Broncos coach Mike Christenson told PinalCentral in December. “If Quest was not on the floor, we would be in trouble a little bit because you can see when we need somebody with the ball in a crucial moment. It has to be him.”
Despite scoring just 13 points in a play-in round loss to Phoenix Thunderbird on Feb. 14, Williams was on fire down the stretch. In the final eight games of the season, he averaged 27.7 points.
The PinalCentral all-county first team includes Williams and four other guards — Joseph Padilla of San Tan Foothills, Mitchell Carlos of Casa Grande Union, Malik Payton of Florence and Jimari Grayson of Apache Junction.
San Tan Foothills had the most successful season of any team in the county, and the biggest reason was Padilla. The Sabercats were a senior-laden squad, and Padilla averaged 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals.
Padilla led San Tan Foothills to a 24-9 record and the second round of the 3A state playoffs.
While Casa Grande Union struggled to an 8-18 record, Carlos was a model of consistency. He never missed a game during his four-year varsity career, and he posted a career-high scoring average of 20.5 points.
Quick off the dribble and able to make shots from nearly anywhere on the floor, Carlos shot 49% from the field, 42% from beyond the arc and 85% from the free-throw line.
In the absence of 2018-19 Player of the Year Nick Tucker, Florence needed someone to replace much of his scoring punch. Enter Payton, who made big strides in his junior season, averaging 18.9 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.8 steals.
Payton was an efficient scorer, shooting 55% from the field and 51% on 3-pointers. Payton helped guide the Gophers to the 3A state playoffs, where they were upset in the first round by Snowflake.
Team success was nowhere to be found for Apache Junction (4-22), but that didn’t stop Grayson from having an outstanding individual season. He scored 22.5 points per game and also averaged 6.1 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.7 steals.
Grayson provided more than half of the offense for the Prospectors, who averaged just 42.3 points per game.