For the seventh year, West Valley Preps has announced honors for the best girls basketball players it covers in the West Valley.
With so many quality players in the West Valley, a third team was necessary. Here is the All-West Valley Preps girls basketball team:
F — Marisa Davis, (Senior), Valley Vista
F — Kennedy Harper (Senior), Estrella Foothills
F — Mikela Cooper, (Junior), Valley Vista
G — Kassidy Dixon (Senior), Millennium
G — Elli Guiney (Freshman), Millennium
F — Madison Magee (Senior), Valley Vista
F — Kiley Miller (Sophomore) Centennial
G — Xavierre Garcia (Senior) Kellis
G — Julie Diveney (Senior), Sunrise Mountain
G — Alanis Delgado (Senior), Valley Vista
F — Brittany Kogbara (Sophomore), Peoria
F — Elena Zamora (Senior), Willow Canyon
F — Michaela Lee (Sophomore), Deer Valley
G — Nakyah Williams (Freshman), Paradise Honors
G — Izzy Majarucon (Freshman), Deer Valley
Millennium sophomore guard Mia Amundsen ducks in to attempt a layup during the 5A state title game against Tucson Flowing Wells on March 20 at Mesquite High School in Gilbert. [Richard Smith/West Valley Preps]
Mia Amundsen, G, (Freshman), Millennium; Rickelle Andrade, G, (Sophomore), Deer Valley; Olivia Arvallo, G, (Sophomore), Valley Vista; Reena Bhakta, F, (Sophomore), Sunrise Mountain; Tiana Bolden, G, (Sophomore), Paradise Honors; Jocelyn Chavez, G, (Freshman), Dysart; Mackenzie Dunham, (Sophomore), Sunrise Mountain; Mirella Funari, G, (Sophomore), Deer Valley; Janae Floyd, G, (Freshman), Mountain Ridge; Geneva Holman, G, (Sophomore), Dysart; Mia Martinez, G, (Sophomore), Willow Canyon; Mackenzie Nielsen, G, (Sophomore), Sunrise Mountain; Kayda Pierce, F, (Sophomore, Millennium; Madison Pond, F, (Freshman), Peoria; Akasha Prpich, G, (Freshman), Centennial; Hannah Uhlenhop, F, (Sophomore), Mountain Ridge.
Marisa Davis – Never a doubt in this race. Davis would win it with numbers alone (18 points, 7 rebounds and two steals plus some top defense). She would win with her performance in the clutch (double-doubles in the difficult semis and finals and scoring 20 of the Monsoon’s 49 points in the defensive-minded final). And she would win for playing at a high level on an injured knee that was never cleared. Since all three of those things were true, it’s no contest.
Kennedy Harper – Clearly, Harper also was the most improved player in the West Valley this season. In her first season at Estrella Foothills, the junior averages 8.7 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. This year she was dominant (17.4 points, 12.9 rebounds and 3.7 steals a contest). Harper showed extreme versatility, with the ability to grab a defensive rebound and drive the length of the court for the layup or post up and score or sink the jumper. She gave the improving Wolves program a clear focal point.
Kassidy Dixon – During the season Dixon was more content to blend in, as Guiney became the Tigers’ top offensive option. But in the playoffs, Millennium’s veteran leader reached a new gear offensively, averaging 15 point a game as her team routed the 4A competition. In reality, though, the Grand Canyon University-bound Dixon is an all-around force. She average more than six rebounds, four assists and nearly three steals a game.
Valley Vista coach Rachel Matakas lays down on the court at Mesquite High School in Gilbert to celebrate with her team after winning the 6A state championship March 20. This is the Monsoon's fourth title in five years. [Ryan McGinley/Dysart Unified School District]
Rachel Matakas, Valley Vista – Entering this year the multiple-time winner was in the same position as former Millennium coach Cory Rojeck last season, where the team was so far above its conference competition that no coaching award was possible. Then star guard Jennah Isai went out with a knee injury and the Monsoon lost their next game at rival Chandler Hamilton. Isai initiated most of the offense, so Matakas and her staff had to make wholesale changes to the attack. She did and the solution was not just having Davis replace Isai on isolations and drive and dishes, This year’s Valley Vista team moved the ball more on offense and used high low passing between interchangeable post players, who could also pass out to Delgado, Arvallo and Ava Ferraro for threes. Faced with a finals rematch with Hamilton, the Monsoon showed how much it had improved and won 5A with a solid team concept on both ends of the court around lone star Davis.
Kevin Thomas, Millennium – This did not seem likely in February. Three losses in the week was a year’s worth in the past two seasons. As with most new coaches, Thomas introduced some different concepts and some worked. But several did not. Thomas admitted after winning the 5A title that if he had not listened to his players and tweaked some of the things he introduced and blended in more of the classic Millennium style, a third title probably is not possible. Thomas deserves credit for being flexible and working with his players to find out what type of basketball suited them. The result was a dominant run through the playoffs and title No. 3.
Brandon Scholtz, Willow Canyon – After a high point in 2019 it appeared the Wildcats sank back to the middle of the 5A pack with a 10-12 record. That team lost its first and third leading scorers. Yet this year Scholtz saw Elena Zamora develop into a superstar. Scholtz expertly mixed the next seven players in its rotation and earned Willow Canyon a 13-2 record and No. 11 seed in 5A, which was right at the ceiling for this team and maybe a touch above it.