The high school basketball season is racing forward, as the regular season ends Friday. While some teams battle for playoff positioning, others try to close out their season by making a strong impression. Here’s a look at the latest PinalCentral boys basketball power rankings.
1. Florence (11-3, Last week: No. 1)
Florence gets the nod at No. 1 due to its 2-0 record head-to-head against Coolidge. The Gophers annihilated No. 22 Safford 82-32 last Friday to win the 3A Central region, netting a season high in points scored and margin of victory. That came just three days after Florence beat No. 12 Thatcher 58-52 on the road. Malik Payton outscored the entire Safford team with 34 points on 11-of-15 shooting and added 15 rebounds.
2. Coolidge (11-2, Last week: No. 2)
Tucson Pusch Ridge is the one team in the 3A Central that Florence couldn’t beat. Coolidge went on the road and beat No. 5 Pusch Ridge 52-41 last Friday, completing a season series sweep. Despite an off shooting night for Nick Harrison (11 points), the Bears shot 50% as a team. Kameron Steward had a team-high 16 points, while sophomore Brayden Gant had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Coolidge also beat Safford 67-47 last Tuesday.
3. ALA-Ironwood (9-6, Last week: No. 4)
The Warriors went 2-0 last week, beating No. 29 Phoenix Bourgade Catholic 80-65 and following that up with a 58-40 win over No. 27 Globe. ALA-Ironwood had four players score in double figures against Bourgade Catholic, led by 18 points from sophomore Corey Wood, while sophomore David Arrellado added 17. The Warriors are 7-2 in their last nine games.
4. Poston Butte (8-5, Last week: No. 3)
The Broncos had just one game last week, a 70-39 defeat to Gilbert Campo Verde, ranked No. 22 in 5A. Poston Butte was led by 10 points from Travalle Beckwith, but the Broncos shot just 30% from the field, including 3 of 20 (15%) from beyond the arc. Poston Butte is 2-4 in its last six games. However, the Broncos have a shot to win the 4A Black Canyon region if they beat Combs on Friday.
5. Combs (6-8, Last week: No. 6)
It was a busy week for Combs, playing three games. The Coyotes started off by pushing two likely playoff teams to the brink but ultimately falling 63-59 to No. 10 Tempe and 56-53 to No. 14 Scottsdale Saguaro. Combs finished the week with a 77-60 win over No. 35 Phoenix Cortez. The Coyotes got 17 points from Isaac Lujan against Tempe, Levi Tuckfield had a team-high 13 against Saguaro, and Lujan scored 25 against Cortez.
6. Casa Grande Union (2-9, Last week: No. 7)
After showing steady progress in their previous five games, all of which were competitive, Casa Grande suffered lopsided losses to No. 19 Marana (79-53) and No. 15 Paradise Valley (74-43) last Thursday and Friday, respectively. The Cougars have three more games: home against No. 11 Marana Mountain View on Tuesday followed by road games at No. 2 Tucson Catalina Foothills and No. 24 Tucson Flowing Wells on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
7. Vista Grande (3-9, Last week: No. 5)
Attrition has worn down the Spartans, who were highly competitive earlier this season. Since defeating Poston Butte 70-69 on Feb. 9, Vista Grande has lost six in a row. And while one of those losses was to Tempe Marcos de Niza in triple overtime, the last three losses have been by 15 to No. 14 Scottsdale Saguaro, 25 to No. 34 Phoenix Barry Goldwater and 24 to No. 38 Scottsdale Coronado.
8. San Tan Foothills (2-9, Last week: No. 8)
The losing streak hit eight after San Tan Foothills was defeated 85-40 by Coolidge on Feb. 19. However, the Sabercats have not played a game since then. Due to that inactivity, they are set for a hell week, with four games in four consecutive days. Starting Tuesday, San Tan Foothills will play at Safford, Tucson Pusch Ridge at home, Thatcher at home and then Thatcher on the road.
9. Maricopa (2-12, Last week: No. 9)
Maricopa’s five-game losing streak includes a couple of close losses. On Feb. 18, the Rams lost 69-62 to No. 23 Yuma Cibola, and they were defeated 70-65 by 5A Gilbert Higley last Thursday. But Maricopa also played a game on Saturday and was blown out 85-34 by Queen Creek Casteel, ranked No. 18 in 5A. Justin Stovall had 26 points to lead the Rams in the loss to Higley.
10. Sequoia Pathway (1-9, Last week: No. 10)
The first year of Arizona Interscholastic Association basketball has not gone well for Sequoia Pathway, previously a member of the Canyon Athletic Association. Last week the Pumas were hammered 112-33 by Gilbert San Tan Charter on Tuesday, and then they lost 86-69 to Phoenix Horizon Honors and 81-53 to Gilbert Arete Prep.
11. Santa Cruz Valley (0-10, Last week: No. 11)
The season ended Friday as a winless one for Santa Cruz, as it lost 52-41 to Heritage Academy Laveen. On the bright side, it was the closest defeat of the season for the Dust Devils outside their 56-55 loss to Sequoia Pathway on Jan. 29. They also lost to Phoenix Country Day 79-40 last Tuesday.