Catalina Foothills reloads after losing starters from 5A state title team

Doug D’Amore and Catalina Foothills have had nine months to digest becoming a state champion, and although many of the players from last year’s team have graduated, the euphoria remains within the program.

“I still see a lot of the boys hanging out,” D’Amore said Monday night after his team beat Pusch Ridge 54-49 in the opening round of the Aztec Classic Gold Division tournament at Pima’s West Gym. “It’s something that they get to cherish and I think that’s what I love most about it.

“It’s something they are going to be proud of their whole lives. It’s something our teams can come to aspire to, to understand the mentality that team had, the chemistry. That’s our ingredient, that’s our chemistry that we have to aim for.”

Some of the Falcons’ standouts from last year’s title run were in attendance Monday night including Carson Peabody, son of Pima coach Brian Peabody. The Peabodys along with the Pima coaching staff are operating the tournament, including running the concession stand and cleaning the gym after the day-long tournament.

The Aztec Classic has two divisions that will crown two champions — the Silver Division and Gold Division. Play resumes Tuesday at 9 a.m. and runs through 7:30 p.m. The last day is Wednesday with the title game of the Silver Division at 1:30 p.m. and of the Gold Division at 7:30 p.m.

Catalina Foothills (off to an impressive 6-2 start despite all the personnel losses) will play Yuma Cibola at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in a semifinal game of the Gold Division tournament. Nogales and Willow Canyon are in the other semifinal at 6 p.m.

In the Silver Division tournament, Sahuaro plays Mica Mountain in one semifinal at 1:30 p.m. after Tanque Verde goes against Cholla in the other semifinal at noon.

Other former Catalina Foothills players in attendance Monday were Ben Pinckney (now a student manager of Lehigh’s basketball team in Pennsylvania aspiring to join the roster), Fletcher Redondo (who is attending Colorado) and Mario Orozco (who goes to ASU along with Carson Peabody).

One of their teammates from last year — 6-foot-10 post player Will Menaugh — is a freshman walk-on with sixth-ranked Arizona.

D’Amore’s revamped roster this season includes players who bided their time last year behind the senior-laden lineup and other who did not play at all, such as senior forward Josh Sochan.

Due to COVID-19 protocols last year, D’Amore tried to keep only a solid rotation of players he would use regularly which made Sochan and others expendable. Instead of sulk or contemplate a transfer, Sochan stuck it out. The 6-foot-1 wing appears to now being playing himself into a potential college career.

He was dominant in transition and strong to the basket compiling 17 points in the win over Pusch Ridge.

“I didn’t have much (experience) last year because of COVID but I played throughout the summer,” Sochan said. “I’ve been playing with all of these guys for the last four years. We have some new talent we’re trying to incorporate.”

Arizona great Reggie Geary’s son Quincy Geary is another senior who has waited for an opportunity within D’Amore’s program.

Quincy is an athlete who is a defensive specialist who likes to distribute the ball — much like his father.

“He’s getting better every day — he’s understanding his role for us,” D’Amore said. “He’s a great athlete. He has a lot of energy both defensively and offensively. When he learns to control it, he does a really good job for us.”

Catalina Foothills senior guard Quincy Geary is a son of former Arizona standout Reggie Geary (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


Jack Eggington, a 6-3 freshman shooting guard, added 13 points against Pusch Ridge. Dylan Hadley, a senior reserve forward last year with the most returning playing experience, had 11 points.

“A completely different team,” D’Amore said of his group. “It was a tough transition; we’re still trying to figure ourselves out. None of these guys except one kid (Hadley) have even played, let alone practiced, at varsity. It’s a very unique situation for all of us.

“I’m proud of the kids. They’re getting better every day.”

Pusch Ridge (7-4) was led by junior guard Ryan Robinson’s 14 points. Fellow junior guard Jordan Voorhees added 10 points.

The Lions will play in a consolation bracket game against Walden Grove at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.


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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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