For the ninth year, West Valley Preps has announced honors for the best boys basketball players it covers in the West Valley.
This time around, we saw so many quality players that a third team was necessary. Here is the all-West Valley Preps boys basketball team:
F — Carter Gittens, junior, Sunrise Mountain
F — Semajay James, senior, Deer Valley
G — Blessing Nwotite, senior, Paradise Honors
G — Jake Lifgren, senior, Centennial
G — Andrew Camacho, junior, Peoria
F — Caden Hunter, junior, Liberty
C — Bradey Henige, sophomore, Cactus
G — Ky Green, junior, Liberty
G — Gabe Pickens, sophomore, Millennium
G — Pike Tancil, senior, Willow Canyon
F — Emery Young, junior, Centennial
F — Joseph Montgomery, senior, Deer Valley
G — Luke Arington, senior, Shadow Ridge
G — Calvin Windley, junior, Peoria
G — Aadem Isai, junior, Valley Vista
Kellis sophomore forward Jai Anthony Bearden raises up for a short jump shot while Peoria junior guard Andrew Camacho tries to draw a charge in the second half of the rivals' Dec. 3 game at Kellis. [Richard Smith/West Valley Preps]
J.T. Amundsen, G, (Fr.), G, Millennium; Nigel Anderson, F, (Soph.), Dysart; Caden Bass, W, (Soph.), Peoria; JaiAnthony Bearden, F, (Soph.), Kellis; Chris Brookins, G, (Fr.), Peoria; Chase Fredrickson, F, (Soph.), Glendale Prep; Gage Gallbreath, F, (Soph.), Centennial; Noah Gifft, G, (Soph.), Ironwood; Marshall Gillette, F, (Soph.), Northwest Christian; Tyler Hutton, F, (Soph.), Highland Prep; Presley Ibeh, W, (Soph.), Highland Prep; Kaleel Kelly, G, (Fr.), Willow Canyon; A.J. Marsh, G, (Soph.), Kellis; I’Yar Shadowvine, G, (Fr.), Ironwood; Kingston Tosi, W, (Fr.), Millennium; Nehemiah Williams, W, (Fr.), Cactus; TayVion Wilson, G, (Fr.), Kellis;
Jake Lifgren, senior, Centennial - Lifgren actually produced a better regular season as a junior. His senior year was marred by a head injury. He missed all five Centennial regular season games after Thanksgiving and before the new year, including a close loss to Highland that is very likely a win if he plays. Even after he returned, the Coyotes suffered two surprising regular season losses at home and dropped to #5 in 5A. All was erased, in the playoffs, when Lifgren was the second best player in the state behind Mesquite guard Nate Calmese. Like Calmese, he carried his team to the first state title in program history. 34 points in the first round against Ironwood, 20 in the quarters at Sunrise Mountain and an eye-popping 34 at top seed Buena.
Andrew Camacho, junior, Peoria - If this is a regular season only award, Camacho takes it home. He has been good since he started his first game as a freshman. This year, Camacho was the veteran that carried the Panthers to a surprising title in the loaded 4A West Valley Region. He scored 26.5 points a game and added 4 assists and 3 steals a contest. More then that Camacho runs a game like a conductor leading a symphony. He did not have a big playoff moment but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Camacho match Calmese shot for shot in the 4A quarters and finished with 44 points. Unfortunately he scored 31 of his team's 39 points and Calmese had much more help.
Carter Gittens, junior, Sunrise Mountain
Sunrise Mountain boys basketball coach Gary Rath, left, and Centennial boys basketball coach Randy Lavender, right, share a laugh following the pregame introuductions of their teams' 5A state quarterfinal Feb. 19 at Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria. Lavender is the West Valley Preps coach of the year for the second time (the first was in 2018). Rath is the runner up. He was the coach of the year in 2016. [Courtesy Ed Russell Photography/For West Valley Preps]
Randy Lavender, Centennial - To us, Lavender clinched this award on Dec. 8. Sounds crazy? Centennial went to Goodyear and beat Millennium 54-48 - without Jake Lifgren. Centennial finished with the 5 seed, Millennium was #6 and Apollo was #7 largely because of that game, in which Lavender expertly managed his team. If Centennial loses, the Coyotes are #6 or #7 and most likely have to beat both Gilbert and McClintock just to get to the finals. Lavender throttled back Centennial's running game after Jayson Petty left for PHH Prep. But he and his veteran guards got the most out of that team and brought home the trophy.
Gary Rath, Sunrise Mountain - While Lavender deserves credit for managining the injuries of Lifgren and his son Trent - an elite talent who missed (essentially) his second straigh year with knee injuries - Rath and the way his program develops talent turned this into a closer race than the postseason results would indicate. Even more so than Patrick Battillo's Panthers, Rath's Mustangs were the surprise team of the season. For the first time in five years the coach was repklacing a Division I player, as Colin Carey headed to NAU. Sunrise Mountain seemed like a top 10 team in 5A and maybe a quarterfinalist. Instead the Mustangs burst into the top four of 5A during the conference's deepest year. Rath and senior point guard Rafe Canale expertly managed a team full of contributing juniors that lacked a game changer outside of Gittens.
Patrick Battillo, Peoria
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