All the realignment talk so far this season has centered on football. To be sure other sports are affected, and girls basketball is right there.
The gals have a redistribution of power, but it is concentrated heavily in 5A-I in the new Central Region.
Two-time defending state champion Gilbert Highland, Gilbert High and Gilbert Mesquite were in the Fiesta Region last year. Those three have shifted to the Central, giving it a solid nucleus. Add Mesa Dobson and Mesa Mountain View, the co-champs of the East Valley Region last year, to that mix and there are five quality teams out of seven. Chandler Basha and Tempe Corona del Sol will be hard-pressed to stay with the veteran lineups those schools hit the hardwood with this week.
Highland, Gilbert, Mesquite and Mountain View all reached the quarterfinals last year. Dobson did not because it lost in overtime to Mesquite.
The revamped Fiesta remains strong with Phoenix Desert Vista, Chandler Hamilton, Chandler High and Phoenix Xavier battling for the top spot. Chandler and Hamilton lost in the first round last year to Xavier and Highland, respectively.
Dobson coach Tyler Dumas couldn’t limit his preseason list of top teams to five.
“St. Mary’s, Mountain View, Gilbert, Tucson, Hamilton, Highland, Desert Vista, Chandler, Xavier, Mesquite, Dobson — you can pick from there,” Dumas said.
The 5A-II battle is likely going to be limited to a two-team race between last year’s loaded finalists — Phoenix Pinnacle and Tolleson.
The 4A-I race may be led by last year’s 4A-II champ, Glendale Raymond Kellis. Kellis moves up to 4A-I this year and is led by high-scoring guard Kayla MacKenzie. The 4A-II title chase figures to be a familiar one with Chandler Seton Catholic, Flagstaff, Page, and Phoenix Thunderbird the primary combatants to replace Raymond Kellis.
In 2A, Chandler Valley Christian wants to erase the heartache of last year’s half-court-shot loss in the semifinals to St. Johns. The Trojans have the pieces to do it, led by junior Stacey Jones.
5 E.V. PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. Kameron Knutson, Dobson, 6-3, P, Sr.: University of San Diego-bound, was East Valley Region player of the year last season, averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks per game.
2. Aley Rohde, Pinnacle, 6-2, F, Jr.; The inside presence of Pioneers’ game, she averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in second varsity season. Has made verbal commitment to Arizona.
3. Maylinn Smith, Mesquite, 5-9, G, Sr.: Relentless drive key to averaging 15.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per outing. Headed to Grand Canyon University.
4. Theresa Wirth, Seton Catholic, 6-0, P, Jr.: Averaged 17 points and eight rebounds a game last season for the Sentinels.
5. Whitney Southerland, Gilbert, 5-4, G, Sr.: Fourth-year starter leads an experienced team. Averaged 16 points last season.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Enjoli Bland, Basha, 6-1, F-C, Sr.; Je Zhe Newton, Chandler, 6-2, W, So.; Kashara Starks, Chandler, 5-9, G, Sr.; MacKenzie Flannigan, Chandler, 5-8, G, Sr.; Sydney Vanda, Corona del Sol, 5-9, F, Sr.; Simone Westbrook, Desert Vista, 5-9, G, So.; Gabby Washington, Desert Ridge, 5-8, G, Jr.; Andrea Jones, Dobson, 5-5, G, Sr.; Justine Johnson, Gilbert, 5-6, G, Sr.; Erin Curry, Hamilton, 5-6, G, Jr.; Lauren Evans, Hamilton, 6-0, G, So.; Katrina Otteson, Hamilton, 5-9, G, Sr.; Haley Vennard, Highland, 5-9, G-F, Sr.; Jenay Locke, Highland, 5-6, G, Sr.; Jennifer Lee, Horizon, 5-9, F, Sr.; Kelsey Misseldine, Mesquite, 5-8, G, Sr.; Katie Nemecek, Mtn. Pointe, 5-9, F, Sr.; Lia Kioa, Mountain View, 5-10, F, Sr.; Jennifer Schlott, Mountain View; 5-6, G, Sr.; Chelsea Brumby, Perry, 5-5, G, Sr.; Arriel Hunter, Perry, 5-10, P, Jr.; Victoria Sheaffer, Pinnacle, 5-10, G, Sr.; Kacie Donovan, Pinnacle, 5-5, G, Sr.; Erika Richards, Red Mountain, 5-8, G, Sr.; Shilpa Tummala, St. Mary’s, 5-10, G-F, So.; Cortnee Walton, St. Mary’s, 6-2, G, So.
Gracie Goulder, Cactus Shadows, 5-7, G, Jr.; Cheryl Ralph, Coronado, 5-6, G, Sr.; Megan Schoenthaler, Fountain Hills, G,; Ryen Jiminez, Higley, 5-6, G, Jr.; Sammy Stolper, Notre Dame, 5-7, G, Sr.; Michaela Ramriez, Saguaro, 5-5, G, Jr.; Caylee Vasquez, Saguaro, 5-5, G, So.; Karah Hess, Saguaro, 5-7, G, Sr.; Kayla Bustos, Seton Catholic, 5-5, G, Jr.; Jade Wilson, Tempe, 6-1, F-C, Sr.; Mona Dixon, Tempe, 5-7, G, Sr.; Hillary Hellestrae, Scottsdale Christian, 5-8, F, Sr.; Katie Davis, Scottsdale Christian, 5-3, G, Jr.; Stacey Jones, Valley Christian, 6-1, W, Jr.; Ashton Wolf, Valley Christian, 5-7, G, Jr.; Kristen Johannsen, Valley Christian, 5-11, P, Sr.; Kenzie Pemberton, Williams Field, 5-10, G, Jr.
Nike Tournament of Champions I — Dec. 18, 19, 21, and 22 hosted by Chandler schools
Nike Tournament of Champions II — Dec. 28-30 hosted by Chandler schools
MLK Classic at Wells Fargo Arena — Jan. 19Noon, Tolleson vs. Pinnacle; 1;30 p.m., St. Mary’s vs. Xavier
1A — Feb. 12-13, 19-20
2A — Feb. 18-20, 26-27
3A — Feb. 11-13, 19-20, 26-27
4A-I — Feb. 16, 19, 25, 27
4A-II — Feb. 16, 19, 25, 27
5A-I — Feb. 25-26, March 1, 3
5A-II — Feb. 25, 27, March 1, 3