High school basketball season is in full swing for players around Arcadia. Here’s what’s happening with the teams at AHS, Brophy Prep, Veritas and Xavier Prep.
Arcadia plays 25 games this season and is currently at a three-win, 17-loss stretch. They have a young team, with eleven senior players graduating last year, but the team has strengths that can lend themselves to a potentially rewarding season.
“We have high basketball IQ, size, the tallest team we’ve had in several years, and defense – one of the best defensive groups we have had,” Head Boys Basketball Coach Stephen Danford said. He likes to run a competitive, rigorous practice.
“We, as a staff, stress fundamentals, kids being accountable to each other, and our expectation program-wide is that we compete and never stop regardless of the score,” he said.
Standout players include sophomores Jamison Fox and Braylon Rooney, senior Ethan Faas, and junior Bo Spiekerman. The team was excited to face their rivals, Saguaro High School and Seton Catholic School.
“Our goals are to get better every day, make the playoffs, and learn from our mistakes,” said Danford.
The Lady Titans have a 11-9 record in the season so far, ranking fourth in the 4A Desert Sky Division. Along with regular season games, the team will play seven tournaments.
“For me, being part of the girls’ basketball team means having fun, playing hard and growing and improving together,” senior shooting guard Darci Cuellar said.
Junior point guard Tianna Knighton and sophomore center Sofia Cordova are the team’s most experienced players, according to Coach Gavin Tolan.
“These two do a great job of helping their teammates learn the game without offending them,” Tolan said.
Their final game of the season is against Chandler’s Seton Catholic School on February 1.
Brophy plays 18 regular season games – thus far, they’ve got 18 wins and six losses under their 6A Premier Division belts. They’re currently in third place.
The team also recently participated in the Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge and five games at the Desert Holiday Classic in Palm Springs, California.
“I think this group has been the best shooting group I have coached so far,” Head Coach Matt Hooten said. According to Hooten, they have a relatively inexperienced team, but the players have become their own as the season progresses. The team this year is also exceptionally skilled in defense. No player on the team is taller than 6’6,” and that presented certain challenges.
“Rebounding is something that we have focused on quite a bit,” Hooten said.
Assistant Coaches Mike Schwertley and Ian Burke are both Brophy graduates who played basketball at Arizona State University and Portland State University, respectively.
“They both bring a ton of expertise. Our focus is always to help teammates play our best game of the season in the next game on the schedule, so that is how we approach our practices and games,” Hooten said.
Leading scorers are senior Arman Madi, who has signed to play for NAU next season, and junior Braeden Speed.
“Our goal is to play our best so that, at the end of the season, we head into the playoffs with multiple wins,” Hooten said.
The Lady Falcons at Veritas Prep play seventeen games in their regular season – thus far, their record is 9-9, ranked 7th in the 2A Metro Division.
The team’s main strength, according to Athletic Director Corian Dennis, is playing hard and gritty, and their numbers have risen since last year. This growth coincides with them being a young team, with only one senior. The coaches stress a positive attitude, consistent effort, and communication among the team.
Dennis said that this year’s top scorers include Jaz Cobb and Cate Schneider. Veritas Prep’s team had their first winning season last year, and they want to build on that success in the current season.
The boys’ basketball teams, varsity and freshman/sophmore, play sixteen regular season games and two regular season tournaments. Varsity has a record of 14-7 and are ranked third in the 2A Metro Division.
They are a competitive bunch who are invested in the success of their teammates, according to Dennis.
“While they struggle with scoring lulls, they are working hard to improve all the time, and are an ambitious team who are always excited to be playing,” Dennis said.
The number of players on both the boys’ varsity team and the freshman and sophomore squads has grown steadily. Their goal is to make it to the state tournament, since Veritas Prep hasn’t played in the postseason since 2015.
Xavier is currently 14-4 and in second place in their division. They play 17 games in the regular season and will participate in two tournaments this year. Depth is their team’s main strength – an advantage that will certainly come in handy as they work on offensive and defensive plays.
“We continue to improve on both ends of the court,” Head Coach Jennifer Gillom said.
Gillom’s coaching style is high-tempo, active play during both practices and games. Xavier boasts a strong lineup of players that bring unique talents and strengths to the team.
“Dominique Nesland is our leading scorer, but anyone on our starting lineup can be the leading scorer on any given night,” Gillom said. They face some tough opponents, but she’s optimistic: “I think our (Premier) conference is very competitive, and we look forward to starting this year against any of those teams.”
Their goal this season is to win the first state championship in the school’s history.