By: Ralph Amsden
Eleven of the 12 teams we cover at CTR made the playoffs, four remain. Here’s a preview of each team’s quarterfinal matchup.
#3 Hamilton vs #6 Dobson (Girls)
On what planet does a two-loss team with a 7-1 record against the top 10 teams in division 1 hold a #6 seed? Had the Mustangs not lost in the opening round of the super sectional, they’d likely be the #2 seed. One thing Hamilton has going for them in this game is the knowledge that they’ve beaten Dobson once already this year- but that 51-50 nail-biter was all the way back on December 2nd.
Dobson continues to be led by Alexis Todd, who is capable of having giant games on both the offensive and defensive ends. Earlier this season in an 8–77 win over Boulder Creek, Alexis Todd scored 42 points, pulled down 16 rebounds, and had 6 steals. She managed that stat line despite having an off shooting night from the foul line (6/17) and from three point range (4/14).
Hamilton needs open shots to win this game, and that’s going to have to fall on both PG Payton Whitmore, as well as how active Makayla Filiere and Maddie Fredericks are away from the ball. If Zayn Dornstauder and Maya Banks can crash the glass and keep the ball in Hamilton’s hands and out of Alexis Todd’s, the Huskies have a real chance to move on to the semifinals and face the winner of #10 Horizon vs #2 Liberty.
The game is Wednesday at Grand Canyon University (4:15pm)
#1 Seton Catholic vs #10 Sahuaro (Girls)
Sahuaro comes in at 27-4 having ripped through most of southern Arizona, and with limited experience against any teams from the Phoenix Metro outside an early season win against Gilbert.
Seton needs to worry about the Cougars’ Sydney Harden. The 5-11 junior forward averaged a double double this season, and did nearly all of her work in the paint. Harden can take a game completely over if Sahuaro needs her to, as evidenced by her scoring 42 of the teams 60 points in a 60-50 win over Palo Verde. Seton needs to find a way to keep Harden off the glass. During a nine game stretch earlier this season, Harden averaged 14 rebounds per game. The Wirth twins will have their work cut out for them.
For Seton, a large part of the responsibility of keeping this young team focused is going to fall on seniors Chelsey Eze and Hailey Wilson, as well as junior Sam Wessel. The Sentinels’ top five scorers, Sarah Barcello, Jenn Wirth, LeeAnne Wirth, Liz Holter and Kendall Krick) are all sophomores or younger. It will be interesting to see who steps up for Seton to get them to the next round- in last year’s quarterfinals, it was Jenn Wirth who went for 14 on 7/12 shooting to help Seton beat South Mountain.
The game is Thursday at Chaparral (6pm)
#8 Valley Christian vs #16 Thatcher (Boys)
We’ve reached the “seedings” don’t matter portion of the D3 boys tournament, as the #8 defending champion Trojans are only seeded this low due to a loss in their sectional final, and #16 Thatcher just knocked off #1 Blue Ridge, showing that they’re capable of competing with anyone in the bracket.
Thatcher is 23-7, and 7-4 in games decided by 10 points or less. The experience they have in close games could be a big help in this matchup with Valley Christian, as the Trojans are 7-3 under the same criteria.
Valley Christian’s Mitchell Timmer is 6’5″, but his skill set is that of a true small forward, knocking down shots from the outside and taking the ball to the basket when it’s the most efficient option available. Still, the Trojans are going to have to use his height to try and contain the Eagles 6’6″ Jared Jorgensen, a shot-blocking, rebound machine who could severely limit Valley Christian’s chances of getting too many second opportunities when the three pointer they live and die by isn’t falling (The Trojans have shot nearly 800 threes on the season, and are making them at a rate of nearly 40%).
The Game is Thursday at Gila River Arena (6pm)
#1 Valley Christian vs #8 Tuba City (Girls)
The most dangerous thing about Tuba City is that they’ve had to play the #2 seed Page Sand Devils three times this year, and while they lost each time, they’ve gotten progressively more competitive. Senior Tate Tsingine is a deadly outside shooter who averages over 18 points a game. She’ll have to play her best to keep this game close.
Valley Christian just needs to treat this like any other game. The Lady Trojans have had only one game decided by less that 20 points in 2015. If senior Ashley Koch takes it to the basket early and often, it’ll be over in the first half. Koch is shooting 67% from inside the arc and averaging nearly 14 points per game over her last 5 contests.
The Game is Thursday at Gila River Arena (7:30pm)