West Valley Preps
For the sixth year, West Valley Preps has announced honors for the best girls basketball players it covers in the West Valley.
This time around, we started covering Millennium and saw so many quality players that a third team was necessary. Here is the all-West Valley Preps girls basketball team:
F — Mehgan Strickler (Junior), Ironwood
F — Marisa Davis, (Sophomore), Valley Vista
F — Ali Zelaya (Junior), Millennium
G — Dominique Phillips (Senior), Millennium
G — Jennah Isai (Freshman), Valley Vista
F — Jamia Clark, (Senior), Centennial
F — Ali Denny, (Senior), Willow Canyon
G — Myla Lee, (Junior), Cactus
G — Julie Diveney, (Sophomore), Sunrise Mountain
G — Trayanna Crisp (Freshman), Millennium
F — Teryn Demaree (Junior), Sunrise Mountain
F — Kaylee Kriwer, (Senior), Willow Canyon
F — Alaina Diggs, (Senior), Millennium
G — Jahleza Clark, (Senior), Cactus
G — Jordan Kress, (Junior), Mountain Ridge
Underclassmen to watch: Izzie Ayer, G, (Sophomore), Glendale Prep; Eden Brosseau, G, (Sophomore), Cactus; Jacinda Chavez, G, (Freshman), Dysart; Kelci Connolly, G, (Freshman), Sunrise Mountain; Lorena Corrales, G, (Sophomore), Kellis; Alanis Delgado, G, (Sophomore), Valley Vista; Talia Dial, G, (Freshman), Dysart; Kelsey Ericksen, G, (Freshman), Shadow Ridge, Dysart; Allison Howard, G, (Sophomore), Deer Valley; Hallie Karen, G, (Sophomore), Paradise Honors; Jessica Kessler-Klein, F, (Sophomore), Ironwood; Lauren Maza, G, (Sophomore), Mountain Ridge; Saniyah Neverson, F, (Freshman), Valley Vista; Makayla Ramirez, G, (Freshman), Willow Canyon.
Player of the year
Dominique Phillips – Who are we to argue with Gatorade? The state player of the year put the Tigers over the top in their quest for the state title. Her statistics (15.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3 steals per game) do not tell the whole story. Phillips sacrificed her scoring to allow teammates more attempts and made 51 percent of her shots, a stellar number for a perimeter player. Perhaps the best measure of her value came in the 5A state final against Gilbert, Millennium’s lone obstacle in its title drive. Phillips scored 10 points in the first quarter as Millennium rushed to a 16-3 lead. She picked up her second foul early in the second quarter and Gilbert put together a 10-2 run. In the second half, Phillips stayed out of further foul trouble and Millennium pulled away.
Jennah Isai – Valley Vista opponents barely had time to exhale after Taylor Chavez graduated before having to deal with a bigger guard capable of carrying the scoring load and creating for her teammates. Isai stood out early as a freshman with rare physical gifts and an advanced understanding of basketball nuances. She led a team with one senior back to the semifinals and virtually assures the Monsoon will remain in the 6A title picture as long as she wears the purple and black.
Ali Zelaya – This mobile 6-3 center with shooting range out to the three-point line is the primary benefactor of Phillips distributing the ball more. Zelaya average 14.7 points and 8 rebounds and continued to add to her offensive game. The junior probably was the toughest matchup in the state and almost certainly will be again next year.
Coach of the year
Jenn Tolle, Sunrise Mountain – This award is in line with most of our other coaching awards, as a measure of whose team exceeded preseason expectations. With that in mind it is very difficult for Millennium’s Cory Rojeck and Valley Vista’s Rachel Matakas. Their players are in a class above in terms of skill level. Tolle is the choice for making the young Mustangs into a factor for the first time in a decade Sunrise Mountain is full of solid, young players and was expected to improve. But the transformation from a .500 team in 4A to a 5A quarterfinalist was closer to the wildest dreams end of the scale. Tolle played three seniors but regularly but also featured two juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen. The program should only continue its rapid ascent.
Courtland Rojeck, Millennium – In spite of all printed above, Rojeck deserves credit for keeping his veteran squad unified and sharp throughout the season. Millennium entered the year as Arizona’s most talented team on paper and responded by not losing to an Arizona team. Rojeck balanced team and individual goals.
Lynn Ramage, Paradise Honors – A year after just reaching the playoffs, Paradise Honors’ first-year coach Ramage came up with a formula to continue the program’s growth. The Panthers won a game in the playoffs and claimed their first region title by improving their record to 14-9. Ramage is a veteran coach and already has an impact on the team’s improvement without a star player to turn to.