After beating Ironwood 66-54 decisively on Thursday night, Catalina Foothills is moving on to its first 5A state championship game in school history.
If senior center Will Menaugh is the engine that drives Catalina Foothills’ success, senior guard Carson Peabody is the gasoline that fuels the machine.
Menaugh, an Arizona preferred walk-on commit, had 23 points in a dominant performance in the paint that was facilitated in part by the unselfish guard play of Peabody, who is the son of Pima Community College coach Brian Peabody.
No. 2-seeded Catalina Foothills (18-1) will play top seed Peoria Centennial (18-1) for the championship Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Gilbert Mesquite High School.
“He’s great, he takes care of the ball, he’s a great ball handler, and a great passer,” Menaugh said of Peabody. “Lots of credit to that guy, there’s no way that we would have been able to break their presses easy if we didn’t have him.”
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Throughout the game, the Falcons (18-1) were able to constantly break Ironwood’s full press defense.
Peabody is quick to deflect the credit back to Menaugh.
“We knew they’d press us a lot, so we had to press break a lot to work it into the key,” Peabody said. “I think we really only had two turnovers in the back court so after we broke that, it was just an easy game for us to spread them out and then move the ball. We obviously give it to Will, he’s our focal point, and nobody can really guard him.”
The Falcons’ lone loss is a close-fought 48-46 loss to Phoenix St. Mary’s at the midway point of the season. St. Mary’s is in the 4A state championship game on Saturday against Paradise Honors, which eliminated Salpointe on Thursday night.
Since the loss to St. Mary’s, Catalina Foothills has won 10 straight games.
“It was still early and that was probably one of the best teams we played at that time, so it was a good challenge for us to see where we were at at that point,” Peabody said. “After that, we just learned that we need to work better as a team and not get selfish and work hard when times get tough.”
It is all about the team for an upbeat Peabody who finished the game with three points. His unselfish nature seems to be a major reason the Falcons have been able to maintain consistent success at a high level this season.
“I’m really happy where I’m at right now. I’m just thankful for my teammates that they trust me to take open shots and knock them down,” Peabody said. “I didn’t really shoot that much this game but we supplied Will and Trace (Comeau) and Cody (Blumenthal). They all got their points, I’m not really worried about getting points or anything, I just wanna make sure we get a win.”
Menaugh is overjoyed to move on and play in the championship game.
“I can’t really describe it, it’s just, I get to play one more game in my last season with my best friends, and that just by itself is amazing,” Menaugh said.
Peabody is ecstatic to be advancing to the title game as well, but only a ring will do for him.
“We’re not done yet, getting a ring is the main goal for our team. It’s what we’ve been working for the last four years.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.