AIA365

Jose Garcia
Multimedia Journalist/Historian

D-IV boys basketball state tournament preview

Scottsdale Prep is as balanced — scoring wise — as any team in the postseason. 

Arizona Lutheran has a potent inside-out combination and the experience of reaching last year’s final. 

It could turn into an interesting matchup if the two meet in the D-IV state boys basketball final this season. Since the two teams played like the top dogs in Division IV boys basketball this season, they were awarded the top two seeds in the D-IV state tournament.

But Scottsdale Prep and Arizona Lutheran haven’t really dominated some of their divisional foes this season, so don’t pencil them in as state finalists just yet. Scottsdale Prep (25-2) hasn’t lost to a D-IV or a D-II, III and IV team since dropping its state semifinal game last year against Arizona Lutheran.

Scottsdale Prep carries seven players who are each scoring seven points or more per game, including captains Matt Munsil, Nick Smith and Ben Arqueros. Sophomore Yuval Yacoby (6-8) also is scoring in double figures and is blocking 2.4 shots per game.

For No. 2 seed Arizona Lutheran (21-5), it is lead by guard Kris Lamberson (17.6 points per game, 53% field goal) and post player Brady Cook (63% FG, 46 blocks.). 

“The team has really improved defensively, and we are playing better because everyone understands their roles,” Arizona Lutheran coach Doug Meyer said. 

Here’s a look at some of the talent that also will compete in the D-IV state tournament: 

Veritas Prep: The No. 8 seed (20-7) was shooting 52 percent and finished the season 13-3 in its final 16 games before the state tournament. 

Grand Cayon: It lost by 14 to El Capitan in the second game of the year, but only lost by three during their last meeting, when Grand Canyon’s 15-game win streak was snapped. Grand Canyon, the No. 9 seed (21-8), starts one of the top players in D-IV, Joey Bankston (22.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg). Bankston already broke the school’s record for rebounds and blocks in a season. Justin Jarrell (8.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.9 apg) broke the season assist school record this season.   

St. Gregory: The No. 5 seed is 23-6. Senior guard Benny Louchheim (18.3 ppg) and sophomore guard Cameron Hodge (11 ppg) are the team’s leading scorers. 

Desert Christian: The turning point for the relatively young team came when it lost close games to D-II Cholla and D-IV Arizona Lutheran. “(That’s when) we realized we could really play with anyone,” coach Iram Alday said. Zach Malis is leading the team with 15 points per game, and five other players are each averaging between 5-9 points a game. 
 
El Capitan: It has reached the postseason in three of the past four seasons under coach Aaron La Corti. The No. 3 seed is 17-5. 

St. Johns: The No. 6 seed is 24-7. Senior Kyle James (6-5) is shooting 70 percent from the field while averaging a team-high 18 points per game. Teammate Dayton Waite is averaging 17.7 points per game.

Joy Christian: The defending state champ earned the No. 7 seed with a 18-9 overall record. The team has been inconsistent partly because of the some injuries, but defensively it is as good as any team Scott Brown has coached, he said. Joy Christian’s go-to player, Josiah Stefanski (20.9 points per game), scored 47 points during a 83-73 victory over Veritas Prep on Feb. 12. 

Arizona high school boys basketball fans can download high or low resolution programs for free here this week.