Thirty basketball games, 30 wins. Just two more to be played for a chance at a perfect season and the 1A boys high school state championship.
Gilbert Christian HS plays the 29th game tonight and, if it gets past Joseph City HS, will play the title game tomorrow evening. Enroute to their 30-0 record, the Knights have made it seem almost effortless. They have not allowed any opponent to get closer than double digits.
And they appear to be peaking at the right time. For the month of February, the Knights have averaged almost 67 points per game. The closest anyone has come during that period is an 11-point victory over Fort Thomas HS.
The fact that the Knights are playing in a 1A conference shouldn’t diminish what they are trying to accomplish. During a holiday tournament hosted by Phoenix Country Day, they won that tournament that included a mix of 2A and 3A teams as well.
St. Gregory HS, the No. 1 seed in the south division, is the two-time defending state champion and the team expected to be in the best position to take on the Gilbert Christian express (although the Knights beat St. Gregory by 17 points earlier in the season). But St. Gregory was eliminated in the second game of the playoffs by St. Michael, the second seed in the north.
Joseph City will take a shot at the Knights tonight in the semifinals, but they just squeked past Valley Union HS, 32-31, to get this far – and 32 points won’t be nearly enough to derail Gilbert Christian. The Knights scored 69 points in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs.
If Joseph City doesn’t get the job done, it will fall to either St. Michael HS or Valley Lutheran HS. They also meet tonight and the winner will take on Gilbert Christian in tomorrow’s finals in Prescott.
Even though Valley Lutheran is a No. 1 seed, St. Michael has already knocked off a No. 1 seed in St. Gregory, as they scored 73 points in that game and won by 21 points. Valley Lutheran’s high-point player is Sam Voas, a junior who averages 13.5 points per outing. But St. Michael puts two big scorers on the floor in a pair of juniors who have really stepped up this year. Kurtis Silversmith averages 24 points and Samuel Hardy brings another 18 points each night. Advantage St. Michael.
But the Gilbert Christian squad is a very balanced scoring machine that has four players who average double digits, led by Logan Fougnies with 18 pts. per game and Dillon Currier with 17 per.
So it would appear we’re headed for a high-octane shootout in the high country. Or an upset that no one is expecting.
Either way, it will be a great story.