Queen Creek 2018-19 high school boys basketball preview

Austin Ponsness (24) (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

The boys basketball season is underway across Queen Creek with many teams playing several games already ahead of the holiday break.

The Queen Creek Independent reached out to boys basketball coaches in the area to get their thoughts on the ongoing season and what they need to do to have a successful season.

All statistics provided are via maxpreps.com and entries with no question-and-answer segments are because the Independent did not receive a response to a questionnaire sent to coaches.

ALA Queen Creek Patriots

3A Central Region

2017-18 Record: 14-15, 7-3 region (Reached second round of 3A playoffs. Ineligible for 2018-19 postseason because of probation)

Coach: Ryan McCurdy, six years experience (five years at ALA Queen Creek)

Top returners: Devon Brooke, Jr. 6-7 guard (8.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg); Dyson Lighthall, Jr. 6-7 forward (7.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg)

What’s your team’s best attribute entering the season?

We have a good balance of post play and shooters.

What will your team need to improve on for this season to be a success?

We need to continue to work on our team defense and executing on the offensive end.

Who are your team leaders? Why?

My team leaders are Dyson Lighthall and Devon Brooke. Both of them are juniors and have the most varsity experience. Dyson is averaging 16 points per game and 11 rebounds per game. Devon is averaging 12 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3 steals per game and 3 assists per game. (Editor’s Note: stats are as of Thursday, Nov. 29)

Who are newcomers to the varsity team who could make an impact?

My newcomers to the team this year that will have a big impact are juniors Tyler Holmes and Ben Strong.

What needs to happen for your team to consider this season a success?

We need to continue to learn how to play together and build team chemistry. We have 9 newcomers to this years varsity team after graduating 10 from last season. Everyday we’re gaining more and more experience playing together.

If applicable, what are your thoughts on the new region and classification?

Not much has changed in 3A and our region. We did add two new teams to our region (San Tan Foothills and ALA-Ironwood). I think our region will be competitive. We’re looking to 4peat as region champs this season.

Benjamin Franklin Chargers

3A Central Region

2017-18 Record: 9-17, 2-8 region (Did not reach 3A playoffs)

Coach: Jeff Thomas (First year at Benjamin Franklin)

Top returners:

Scoring: Cameron Bender, Sr. 6-2 guard (21.3 ppg); Adam Martin, Sr. 6-3 forward (12.2 ppg)

Rebounding: Martin (3.8 rpg); Bender (3.6 rpg)

Assists: Bender (1.4 apg); Garrison Meeks, Sr. 6-1 guard (1.1 apg)

Casteel Colts

Casteel’s Chris York (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

5A San Tan Region

2017-18 Record: 18-10, 8-2 region (Reached second round of 3A playoffs.)

Coach: Brett Huston, 28 years experience (three years at Casteel)

Top returners: Chris York, Sr. 6-0 guard (14 ppg, 3.7 rpg); Austin Ponsness, Sr. 6-3 guard/forward (11.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg); Cooper Christensen, Sr. 6-2 guard (9 ppg, 4 apg, 1.9 spg)

What’s your team’s best attribute entering the season?

Cohesion – our group has been playing together since their freshman season. They helped open the school. As seniors, they’ve been through it all together and are the better for it.

What will your team need to improve on for this season to be a success?

Overcome our size disadvantage. Our tallest player goes 6’4.

Who are your team leaders? Why?

Chris York, Cooper Christensen, and Austin Ponsness. All have been selected captains by their teammates. Chris is our leading scorer and a sharpshooter. Cooper is our playmaker and point guard. Austin is our do everything (from scoring, to rebounding, to assists)

Who are newcomers to the varsity team who could make an impact?

Caelan Russel and Deven Franks. Both are juniors who are poised for a breakout season.

What needs to happen for your team to consider this season a success?

We need to become men of impeccable character and integrity. For us, it’s more than just about basketball. Our boy’s believe in service before self and consistently choose to do the right thing, even when it’s the hardest thing.

If applicable, what are your thoughts on the new region and classification?

Jumping two divisions will have it’s challenges, but we’ve spent the past two summers competing in summer league events that have higher division teams. This will allow us to not be overwhelmed by the transition.

Higley Knights

5A San Tan Region

2017-18 Record: 15-12, 5-3 region (Forfeited 4A play-in victory)

Coach: Jerome Joseph (Fifth year at Higley)

Top returners:

Scoring: Jason Harris, Jr. 6-8 forward (18.9 ppg); Zachary Scheerhorn, Sr. 6-2 guard/forward (4.3 ppg)

Rebounding: Harris (7.6 rpg)

 

 

Calvin Gustafson (Photo courtesy of QCHS Athletics)

Assists: Harris (1.8 apg); Blake Warren, Sr. 5-8 guard (1.6 apg)

 

 

Game notes: Shon Robinson, Jordan Flowers and Unisa Turay — all key contributors as sophomores last year — are now on the Eduprize roster in Gilbert.

Queen Creek Bulldogs

6A Central Region

2017-18 Record: 12-12, 4-4 region (Did not qualify for 5A playoffs)

Coach: Daniel Bobik (First year at QCHS)

Top returner: Calvin Gustafson, So. 6-6 forward (3.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

Game notes: Queen Creek graduated a large portion of its players last year.

Editor’s Note: Josh Martinez compiled stats and quotes.

The Queen Creek Independent is mailed each month to 24,000 homes.

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