11/25/2012 1:04:00 AM 2012-13 SEASON PREVIEW Experience, paint presence power playoff-hopeful PHS boys hoops
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier Prescott High School varsity basketball players Jake Feingold, left, and Keyshawn Liggins, right, rebound the ball while running drills during practice Nov. 15 at PHS.
Badger girls win 3 of 4 at tourney
The Prescott High girls' basketball team won three of four games over the weekend at the Desert Edge Scorpion Shootout in Goodyear.
Brette Anderson represented PHS on the All-Tournament Team for her stellar play.
Prescott opened with a win over Agua Fria on Friday, then played a triple-header on Saturday. The marathon day opened with a win over Campo Verde before the Badgers suffered their first tournament loss with a setback against Millennium.
PHS rebounded with a 62-43 win over Catalina Foothills in the third-place game.
The Badgers (3-2 overall) are at Paradise Valley on Tuesday.
Watch the Courier this Friday for a look at this year's team and the 2012-13 season.
PRESCOTT - Die-hard fans in Badgers Boys' Basketball Nation are keeping their fingers crossed that this will be a breakthrough winter for a program in the midst of a decade-long state tournament drought.
Last season, Prescott High posted a 10-16 overall record and failed to qualify for the Division II playoffs with an 11-player roster that had only one senior.
For 2012-13, however, the Badgers return all five of their starters and have added a handful of sturdy newcomers to their deep 13-man squad in hopes of reigniting the fire.
Prescott, which has 11 players with varsity experience, is blessed with solid height in the paint and decent shooters from the perimeter.
"On both ends, offensively and defensively, we're very balanced," fourth-year Prescott coach Adam Neely said. "We have depth. We have guys who are comfortable in their roles. We have a lot of good things going our way at this point."
The coach added that he believes the Badgers' more mature, tight-knit veteran players will capitalize on their prior knowledge of the team's system and the fact that they know what's expected of them. PHS has seven seniors and six juniors.
"We play a lot better now together, and we stay composed," bulky 6-foot-10, 245-pound junior center Cameron Gilbert said. "We're a good rebounding team. We just click together, I guess."
This winter, the Badgers will lean on Gilbert, senior swingman Jaran Hoover (6-3, 170), junior guard Jake Feingold (5-10, 160), senior forward Tommy McMahon (6-7, 190) and senior point guard Mikey Pirante (5-8, 150).
Pirante controls the tempo well offensively and is an instinctual defender as the squad's quarterback, Neely said.
Last season, Gilbert led Prescott with 13.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4 blocks per game. The hot-shooting Hoover, who has become the Badgers' most dangerous scoring threat, averaged 10.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg.
In the backcourt, Hoover does most everything for Prescott on both ends of the floor, whether it's scoring, rebounding or defending, the coach said.
Aiding Pirante and Hoover from the wings are senior guard D.J. Schroeder (5-10, 155), a multi-talented player, and Feingold, who drives strong to the basket and understands how to defend.
Newcomers for PHS include senior forward Jordan Simpson (6-1, 170), junior forward Dante Cameron (6-2, 170), and junior guards Trey Fuller (5-11, 160) and Keyshawn Liggins (6-2, 165).
Neely said he's been impressed with Gilbert, who put on 30 pounds of muscle over the summer and has "a legitimate 6-10 frame."
"He's really worked on his game and he's going to be a handful in the paint," the coach said. "People are really going to have a hard time with him."
Hoover said the team counts heavily on the maturing Gilbert and McMahon in the offense.
"We just look for our posts, and we pretty much base our offense off them and go from there," he said.
This past off-season, Prescott won a majority of their games in four summer camps and a five-week-long fall league. They also lifted plenty of weights.
"We got in the gym and worked on our footwork and speed," Gilbert said. "We're looking a lot better."
Added Pirante, "In the off-season, we definitely built a lot of chemistry just playing all these games together. Everybody kind of improved in their own little game."
PHS opened the campaign this past week at the Ironwood Thanksgiving Tournament in Glendale, where the Badgers finished with a 1-2 record.
As the season progresses, Neely said his primary focus in practice is teaching his players to improve defensively and pressure the basketball in the man-to-man and full-court press.
On offense, Prescott likes to push the ball up the floor, but it wants to take its time in the half-court to convert easy baskets in high-low sets because of its size advantage and quickness in the paint with Gilbert and McMahon.
If the Badgers continue to improve, Gilbert said he has high expectations for the Badgers finally reaching the playoffs this winter.
Prescott plays host to Paradise Valley in its season home opener at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"We were really immature last year - and inexperienced," he said. "This year, we're a lot more experienced. We look so much more composed.