No one can claim they have felt the downside of the COVID-19 disruption to the high school basketball season more than Alyssa Brown.
The senior at Sahuaro High School in Tucson, who is the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year, had a legitimate shot at becoming the career scoring leader in Arizona girls’ basketball. But when the start of the 2020-21 season was moved from November back to Jan. 5, and then again to Jan. 18, it made Brown’s chances just short of impossible.
The 6’1″ forward would have had to average almost 50 points a game to top Julie Brase‘s career high of 2,913. Brase set the record during her 1994-98 prep career at Tucson’s Catalina Foothills High School before going on to have a standout college career at University of Arizona.
Brown didn’t average 50 points a game, but she did manage to produce at an astounding clip of 30.8 points a game. Her 586 points (based on game reports to MaxPreps) didn’t eclipse Brase, but it did put her in second place.
After the 19-game season ended a week ago, Brown had accumulated a total of 2,682 points to pass Kayla Peterson, who had been holding down the No. 2 slot since her 2003-2007 run at Mesa’s Red Mountain HS. Peterson left Red Mountain with 2,611 career points.
But to finish just 232 points short of the record Brase has held for over two decades will gnaw at Brown for years to come. And rightly so, since, at her scoring pace, she needed just eight more games to overtake Brase.
However, she should get some satisfaction in the fact that she single-handedly led Sahuaro to a 17-2 record this season. That’s reasonable to say since Brown’ 586 total points were more than the combined total of the next three top scorers on the team.
Brown shot 61 percent from the field. The team average was 46 percent.
Sahuaro averaged 62 points a game. That means Brown accounted for half of the team totals each night.
Sahuaro’s two losses on the season were to the same team. Salpointe Catholic beat them in a March 4 game during the regular season, and then knocked the Cougars out of the 4A state tournament in the semifinal round.
Salpointe, another Tucson school, was seeded No. 2 in the tourney, while Sahuaro was No. 3. But the results were far different than the first meeting between the two teams. Sahuaro lost by 30 points the first time, and fell by just five (51-46) in the semifinal match-up. Brown and her teammates were that close to getting a shot at the state title.
When Brown, who committed last August to play for UNLV, started this season, she wasn’t even among the top 20 in career points. But by season’s end she had climbed her way up to No. 2. Now she is among an elite group of just six high school girl basketball players in the state to record 2,500 career points.
That’s an accomplishment that has to mean something. Even if she didn’t quite make it to the top.