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WEST VALLEY PREPS

West Valley Preps Goodyear, Surprise girls basketball preview

Posted 11/27/23

The girls basketball season started two weeks ago. The Surprise Independent and Goodyear/Litchfield Park Independent asked the local coaches for their outlook on the season.

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WEST VALLEY PREPS

West Valley Preps Goodyear, Surprise girls basketball preview

Posted

The girls basketball season started two weeks ago. The Surprise Independent and Goodyear/Litchfield Park Independent asked the local coaches for their outlook on the season.

CANYON VIEW JAGUARS

5A Desert West Region
2022-23 Record: 23-8 overall, 10-2 region (5A runners up)
Coach: Desirae Carranza (fifth year as Canyon View head coach)
Top Returnees: PF Jaila Flowers, Soph. 5-9 (11.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg), SG Aaliyah Rogers, Soph., 5-7 (9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.9 spg)
How many years have you coached girls basketball? 16 years 
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? One of this teams greatest attributes is its willingness to learn and to be coached. Each game we learn something new from one another and about ourselves. 
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to continue to work on our toughness physically and mentally as our girls continue to mature and grow their game IQ. 
Who are your team leaders? We are really looking to our point guards for leaderships; Bernadette Carranza, Aaliyah Roger’s and Cynthia Tewksbury.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? Junior guard MaKenzie Pope (transfer-Odyssey Institute), sophomore guard Jaylin Williams and sophomore forward Hannah Holm. 
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? We need to continue to play together, build our team chemistry and win some tough games on the road.

DESERT EDGE SCORPIONS

5A Desert West Region
2022-23 Record: 13-14 overall, 7-5 region (Reached 5A play in)
Coach: Heidi Behnke (17th year as Desert Edge head coach)
Top Returnees: G Anaira Ortiz-Reyes, Sr. 5-2 (5.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg), SG Jitzabeth Hielo Miles, Soph., 5-4 (4.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.1 spg)
How many years have you coached girls basketball? This is year 17 has a head coach, two seasons as an assistant
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Senior leadership.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to minimize our unforced errors. As an undersized team, we need to focus on rebounding.
Who are your team leaders? Seniors Anaira Ortiz-Reyes, Monica Orozco, Jitzabeth Hielo Miles. Sophomore Aniyah Benn.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? JSenior transfer Aysja Ward (from California), Sophomore transfer (from Washington) Aniyah Benn.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? We need to continue to grow as a team. We have a lot of new pieces so we need to find our rhythm as a unit.

ESTRELLA FOOTHILLS WOLVES

4A West Valley Region
2022-23 Record: 26-8 overall, 7-3 region (Reached 4A first round)
Coach: Noel Hatchel (Second season as Estrella Foothills head coach)
Top Returnees: W Madison Pond, Sr., 5-10 (12.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.8 spg); W Alina Bowden, Sr., 5-9 (12.7 ppg, 8 rpg, 3.1 spg)
How many years have you coached girls basketball? This is my 32 year.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? They're very unselfish.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Better help-side defense.
Who are your team leaders? Madison Pond, Eva Amenhauser, Chanel Yellowman, Alina Bowden and Nemo Sidhu.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? Nemo Sidhu (freshman guard) and Sydney Aey (senior guard) from Ohio.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or achieve the goals the team has set? Believe in their abilities. Trust the system and play unselfish basketball.

HIGHLAND PREP HONEY BADGERS

2A Central Region
2022-23 Record: 8-14 overall, 5-7 region (2A runners up)
Coach: Terrance Alfaro (Second season as Highland Prep head coach)
Top Returnees: SF Anahi Nunez, Sr., 6-4 (8.9 ppg), G Tatiana Minick, Jr., 5-6 (6.3 ppg)
How many years have you coached basketball? I’ve been coaching for more than 12 years at various levels on both the girls and boys side. This is my second year as the head coach here at Highland Prep.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our best attribute this year has to be the chemistry and experience this team as developed in working with one another. This is the first time this squad has been able to play and train together all year long. The girls got in a lot of club reps and came to weekly skills training sessions which really helped their confidence. Having the time to develop familiarity with one another is key in team sports and the girls have developed a real bond coming into this season.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Some of our role players will really have to carve out a path to become more efficient scorers. We lost a volume scorer this year and helping create good opportunities for others to get open looks is key. Our shot selection has been an area of improvement so it will be interesting to see what that looks like as the season evolves. Lastly, we are really stepping into a defensive identity as a team. If we can be the “defense first” team we strive to be, we’ll be extremely competitive.
Who are your team leaders? Anahi Nunez is our only senior and is a team captain. Her vocal leadership and all around play making will be huge for us this year. She is embracing the role and thriving. Trinity Alfaro is a transfer from 5A Independence who brings a lot to the team and is a volume scorer. She was selected as a captain for this squad as well. While she is ineligible for the first five games, her leadership off the court, during practice, and in the huddle in essential for team success. She is a natural leader who fits really well on this team.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? As I mentioned Trinity will elevate this team to a new level once she’s eligible. Jayla Robles is a freshman with a lot of energy. She’s a hard nosed defender and is developing her outside shot and slashing capabilities. She’s going to give us a real spark and keep the girls fired up!
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We are an undersized squad so grit and tenacity are going to be paramount in our pursuit of our first winning record and postseason. Kendra Ibeh is looking very strong in practice and her ability to control the boards and create second shot opportunities will be huge for us. We need to start the season strong and build momentum in the first half of the season so we can accelerate once we reach full strength over the holiday break. If we can stay healthy and play with a chip on our shoulder, we will reach our goals.

PARADISE HONORS PANTHERS

4A Skyline Region
2022-23 Record: 14-10 overall, 8-2 region (Reached 4A first round)
Coach: Nathan Jackson (Fourth seasons as Paradise Honors head coach)
Top Returnees: SG Morgan Van Dyke, Jr., 5-7 (16 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5 spg); PG Star Nwabichie, Sr., 6-0 (8.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
How many years have you coached girls basketball? This is my fourth year coaching at PHHS as the varsity coach.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our youth and experience. The core of my team were all underclassmen last year. After the season ended we played over the summer so it feels like they jumped two years coming into this season. We are still really young but we have had a lot of experience playing together.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? The goal is to win the region. We fell short last year due to a lack of toughness and experience. We have been working on that all summer so our success is going to be based on being tougher and more skilled than our opponents on both sides of the ball.
Who are your team leaders? Junior Morgan Van Dyke, senior Hannah Hughens, sophomore Genesis Kanae.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? Jocelyn Leal is an incoming freshman that will make an immediate impact this year. Her shooting ability and basketball IQ have already elevated our team.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or achieve the goals the team has set? We have to win our region. If we play hard, have fun, and get 1% better every day we will have a great year. Winning comes with a price and if we are willing to pay that price every time we step on the court we achieve all of our goals.

Shadow Ridge junior Shaelyn Anthony grabs a rebound with facing defensive pressure from Valley Vista freshman forward Deja Strong during a Jan. 17 girls basketball game at Valley Vista High School. Both players return to their teams for the 2023-24 season. (Courtesy Ryan McGinley/Dysart Unified School District)

SHADOW RIDGE STALLIONS

6A West Valley Region
2022-23 Record: 11-12 overall, 6-4 region (reached 6A play-in)
Coach: John Williams (second year as Shadow Ridge head coach)
Top Returnees: PF Aalayah Ramirez, Sr. 5-10 (9.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg), C Olivia Holub, Sr., 5-7 (8.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
How many years have you coached girls basketball? 12 years and all 12 at Shadow Ridge.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Competitive edge. These girls are hungry to reach their goals which is playoffs.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Confidence. Greatness comes from within. Once we realize how great we are as a team, and individually, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with..
Who are your team leaders? Shaelyn Anthony, Aalayah Ramirez and Olivia Holub.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or achieve the goals the team has set? Stick to our philosophy: Everything Earned; Nothing Given, Go after every moment as if it were your last. Trust in one another. And when you feel like giving up, remember why you started. We keep that in mind, we’ll achieve whatever we desire. Stallion Pride baby! Let’s go!

VALLEY VISTA MONSOON

6A West Valley Region
2022-23 Record: 23-9 overall, 10-0 region (6A state champion)
Coach: Brooklynn Hinkens (first full year as Valley Vista head coach)
Top Returnees: C Emma Dasovich, Sr. 6-0 (11.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg), PG Jocelyn Chavez, Sr., 5-9 (9.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.4 apg)
How many years have you coached girls basketball? I have been coaching basketball for eight years, collegiately and at the high school level. During this time, I have gained valuable experience working with young athletes and fostering a positive and competitive team environment.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our team's best attribute entering this season is our commitment to hard work and team unity. The players have demonstrated exceptional dedication during the off-season, and our team chemistry is stronger than ever.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? To ensure a successful season, we need to focus on refining our offensive and defensive strategies. Additionally, improving our rebounding and maintaining a high level of fitness will be crucial for sustained performance throughout the season.
Who are your team leaders? Our team leaders are players who not only excel on the court but also demonstrate strong leadership qualities. Captain Jocelyn Chavez and Emma Dasovich have shown exceptional leadership skills, both in practice and in motivating their teammates during challenging moments.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? We have some promising newcomers to the varsity squad this season. Keep an eye on freshman Kinsey Murray and freshman Braya Neal Tiffany, as they have shown great potential and dedication during pre-season training.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or achieve the goals the team has set? To reach the state tournament and achieve our set goals, we must stay focused on our objectives. This includes consistent effort in practices, effective communication on and off the court, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Developing resilience and learning from both victories and defeats will be key to our success.

WILLOW CANYON WILDCATS

5A Northwest Region
2022-23 Record: 19-7 overall, 7-5 region (Reched 5A first round)
Coach: Brandon Scholtz (10th year as Willow Canyon head coach)
Top Returnees: SG Sarah Karnitz, Soph. 5-6 (13.7 ppg, 1.5 spg), PG Keke Helman, Sr., 5-4 (5.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
How many years have you coached girls basketball? This will be my 10th year as the head coach at Willow Canyon
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Team work This group of girls really works well together and really enjoy seeing each other have success. The coaches and the team really worked hard this off season on building chemistry with so many new girls in the mix this year.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We have a lot of little details to clean up still. This is a young group, we lost six seniors last season and 4 of them were starters. So we really only have three players with true varsity experience so with that comes some mistakes and some growing pains. The hope is that the girls who have varsity experience (senior Keke Helman, senior Launa Rogers and sophomore Sarah Karnitz) will be able to really take the lead and demonstrate to the younger girls how we need to do things to be successful.
Who are your team leaders? We have three team captains Sr. Launa Rogers, Sr. Monica Ortiz, and Jr. Kandace O Connell. However we rely on each girl to have a leadership role in their own way. Each girl has an opportunity to take charge in different aspects of the team during practices and off the court. That has been a part of the team bonding and team chemistry approach we have taken this off season. Multiple girls will be relied on as leaders this year.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? We will definitely be relying on our few main varsity returners to step up in a big way, however we are also excited for what the youth in the program will be able to produce this year. Junior Kandace O Connell has taken huge strides this offseason and her role will be a critical one for our success on both ends of the floor. Junior Kayla Preston and junior Maya Marshall both bring a ton of energy and defensive presence on the court which we will rely on as well. Junior Tylajia Milsap will bring some much needed size and toughness to the squad this year and we are excited to see what she can do mixing her way into the rotation. We are also excited to see what Freshman Jaylynn Pope can bring to the team with her speed and fearlessness attacking the basket
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? We need consistency from the newer and younger girls stepping into key roles. They will be asked to do a lot on this team this year and consistency will be the key. We preach it in practice all the time and we will be looking for that all season long. Knowing and understanding their roles out there and what success looks like in those roles, that’s the consistency we will need in order to achieve a successful season.