A look at the local top 10 in the top statistical categories — points, rebounds and assists — indicates why Pueblo High School is in the postseason for the first time in five years under first-year coach Harry Whitaker Jr.
The Warriors (13-2) have the Southern Arizona leader in rebounds (6-foot-11 center Zach Morgan at 11.9 a game) and assists (guard Marcus Coleman is averaging 6.3 a game). Sophomore guard Amari Carraway, who will emerge as one of the West Coast’s top Class of 2023 talents, is second in scoring with 21.3 points a game.
Carraway is tied with Sabino’s Brock Jackson in scoring average.
St. Augustine’s Thomas Reyna has finished this season averaging 25.8 points a game.
Pueblo opens the 4A state playoffs at home Wednesday as the No. 5 seed going against No. 12 Mesquite (11-4).
“I wanted to play football but then I grew about 10 inches,” Morgan said. “Right now, I’m developing really fast. I believe my touch around the rim is getting way better. I’m trying to develop a shot.
“I definitely want to become a leader for my team and a scorer at all times.”
Carraway, 5-foot-10 and 140 pounds, transferred from Fresno’s Washington Union High because basketball was on hold in California due to COVID-19. He is a distant relative of Whitaker, who hails from North Carolina.
“I thought it was just a good opportunity for me to come out here to Arizona,” Carraway said. “My coach (Whitaker) has helped train me and we have built a relationship. I like playing in Tucson so far. It’s a different experience from California, of course.”
Carraway has a background of playing in high-profile youth basketball events such as the Pangos All-West/Frosh-Soph Camp and the Central Cali Prospect Workouts in which budding prospects show their wares for scouts.
After one of these camps, Carraway told reporters Arizona is one of his dream destinations.
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) February 9, 2021
“Armari’s pretty advanced for the 2023 class, a sophomore, he’s going to help Tucson out,” said Whitaker, a youth basketball coach in Tucson the last 13 years who was Pueblo’s freshman coach the previous two seasons before taking over this year.
“He’ll bring that guard position back to Tucson. Arizona had that point guard atmosphere. That’s one thing I keep telling Amari. That’s what I love about Arizona, they always had that we call it the Point Guard U. at one point. He would fit into that system as well.”
That’s a lofty goal for Carraway, who showed a throwback style with a crafty mid-range game, swishing jumpers early this season against No. 2-seeded Salpointe.
Carraway is hard to defend off the dribble because of his quickness. He can blow by defenders for high-percentage shots or he draws fouls because of hand checks to keep up with him. He’s not afraid to go into the lane and score against bigger players. His speed makes him a good defender as well.
TUESDAY, MARCH 9
1A BOYS BASKETBALL QUARTERFINALS
No. 5 Ray at No. 4 St. David, 7 p.m.
No. 14 Patagonia at No. 6 El Capitan, 7 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10
2A-4A BOYS BASKETBALL FIRST ROUND
(2A) No. 13 Gilbert Christian at No. 4 Benson, 7 p.m.
(3A) No. 9 Gilbert at No. 8 Pusch Ridge, 7 p.m.
(3A) No. 16 Sabino at No. 1 Valley Christian, 7 p.m.
(4A) No. 15 Dysart at No. 2 Salpointe
(4A) No. 12 Mesquite at No. 5 Pueblo, 7 p.m.
(4A) No. 10 Sahuaro at No. 7 Deer Valley, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, MARCH 11
5A BOYS BASKETBALL FIRST ROUND
No. 15 McClintock at No. 2 Catalina Foothills, 7 p.m.
No. 12 Sunrise Mountain at No. 5 Buena, 7 p.m.
No. 10 Willow Canyon at No. 7 Nogales, 7 p.m.
Southern Arizona Boys Basketball Scoring LeadersThrough games of Wed., Jan. 19. Source: MaxPreps (Stats provided by coach or team statistician).
|Ralphie Valencia||San Manuel||Jr.||G||10||253||25.3|
|Vince Edwards||The Gregory School||Jr.||G||18||447||24.8|
|Antonio Martinez||Palo Verde||Sr,||G||15||364||24.3|
|Masai Dean Jr.||Cholla||Jr.||G||12||264||22.0|
|Tony Guisa Jr.||San Manuel||Jr.||G||11||198||18.0|
|Isaiah Smith||Flowing Wells||Sr.||G||13||231||17.8|
Southern Arizona Boys Basketball Rebounding LeadersThrough games of Wed., Jan. 19. Source: Maxpreps (Stats provided by coach or team statistician)
|Vince Edwards||The Gregory School||Jr.||F||18||208||11.6|
|Tony Guisa Jr.||San Manuel||Jr.||G||11||124||11.3|
|Tyrel Lasater||Desert Christian||Sr.||C||18||173||9.6|
|Anthony Valenzuela||Palo Verde||Sr.||F||15||127||8.5|
|Nathan Harris||Santa Cruz||Fr.||F||17||135||7.9|
|Richard Legarra||Flowing Wells||Jr.||F||14||109||7.8|
|Noah Williams||Ironwood Ridge||Jr.||C||17||120||7.1|
Southern Arizona Boys Basketball Assist LeadersThrough games of Wed., Jan. 19. Source: Maxpreps (Stats provided by coach or team statistician)
|Masai Dean Jr.||Cholla||Jr.||G||12||78||6.5|
|Isaiah Smith||Flowing Wells||Sr.||G||13||55||4.2|
|Antonio Martinez||Palo Verde||Sr.||G||15||60||4.0|
|Ralphie Valencia||San Manuel||Jr.||G||10||39||3.9|
|David El||The Gregory School||So.||G||11||38||3.5|
|Adam Vavala||Desert Christian||So.||G||17||58||3.4|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.