Gilbert Perry clearly isn’t an ordinary startup basketball program. Already armed with a coach that has won four state titles, the Pumas showed their prowess on the court Tuesday night, beating Queen Creek 65-48 to stay undefeated in 4A-II East Sky Region play.
Perry (8-3, 3-0) is in its first year of varsity play and doesn’t have any seniors, but dominated throughout against a Bulldogs team that came into the game with a record of 13-2.
Perry sophomore forward Mantel Simmons had 17 points and 12 rebounds and point guard Beau Renaud added 16 points, including a spectacular reverse lay-up on an alley-oop to give the Pumas an early 21-2 lead.
The score was tied 2-2 following a pair of free throws from Queen Creek’s Luke Miller just over a minute into the game, but Perry scored 19 straight points to take full control.
The Bulldogs went six minutes and 36 seconds without a point in the first quarter.
“We were ready to play,” Perry coach Mark Nold said. “The kids really came out with the intensity they needed.”
Nold won three straight 4A titles at Glendale Apollo from 2005-07 before taking the job at Perry. He also won a state title as an assistant at Phoenix Moon Valley in 1998, with Richard Jefferson the focal point of that squad.
Nold coached junior varsity last season because the Pumas did not have a varsity team.
“It was a different experience, kind of like a year off, so to speak,” Nold said. “We didn’t focus too much on wins and losses last year. We just focused on how to get better for this year, when it matters.”
The Pumas had a 21-4 lead after the first quarter. The lead ballooned to 24 in the third quarter, and Queen Creek would get no closer than 15 points. Renaud was the driving force, scoring 14 points in the first half and playing tough defense on Queen Creek point guard Zane Garcia.
Miller was almost the entire offense for the Bulldogs (13-3, 2-1), scoring 27 points.
The Pumas have a showdown with fourth-ranked Phoenix Arcadia on Thursday, but Nold urged keeping everything in perspective.
“So far, so good, but it’s December (16th),” Nold said. “Hopefully we can keep building this momentum for when it’s really important, in January and February. We’ll try to peak there.”