The Desert Vista basketball programs are still hustling and muscling their way through season with less than a week left.

In Division I, Desert Vista is the only school that can say that both teams are still alive in the Elite Eight in the respective 24-team tournaments.

That's pretty special in itself, but neither would be satisfied with it ending there.

Both programs face difficult circumstances for two very different reasons in this week's quarterfinals.

The No. 6 Thunder girls are 25-6 and have been one of the state's top teams all year, but have been shafted by the system as they have to face third-seeded and undefeated St. Mary's, which is ranked in the top five nationally (No. 4 MaxPreps, No. 1 USAToday).

Desert Vista coach Rachel Proudfoot wisely didn't comment on her feelings on how a team respected so much nationally only managed to be a third seed in its own state tournament.

More on that later.

The Desert Vista boys (21-8) are dealing with something much more difficult as Thunder coach Dave Williams might have to leave the team at any moment with his father facing his final days.

"My dad is deathly ill," he said after Saturday night's blowout of Mountain View. "He could die any minute. The kids know how emotional I am at this point. They've showed me that they love me."

It is a lot for him and the players to deal with as they prepare for Tuesday's 2:30 p.m. tipoff with No. 4 Gilbert (21-6) at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena.

The two programs haven't faced each other this season, but Williams feels like it doesn't matter who the fifth-seeded Thunder face at this point.

"We're dialed in now," Williams said. "Hopefully we can duplicate (the level of play they showed against Mountain View) again over on Tuesday at ASU. We'll see if we can or not. This group is focused."

The Thunder girls are going to have to be at their best to take on St. Mary's (27-0) on Monday at 4:15 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

St. Mary's has really only been challenged once this season, wining by as many as 69 points and allowing as little as 10 this season while beating teams from Australia, New York and Maryland.

The closest game of the year came against Chandler, led by former Thunder teammate Simone Westbrook, when the Wolves kept it close before losing 68-62 on Jan. 6.

None of that really matters come Monday afternoon when Desert Vista, which can match the size and speed with its multiple lineups but not the depth, takes its first shot at the Knights.

"We will give special assignments and each person can take on their own role on defense," Proudfoot said. "They know they are ranked high and are excited about the chance to pulling off the upset and do something great."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.



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