Basketball: As players become more versatile, it extends team’s bench - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Basketball: As players become more versatile, it extends team’s bench

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Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 8:00 am

Every opposing team knows Danny Powell and Jeff Lowery are going to get theirs.

And we are not just talking about scholarships as the Desert Vista duo has already signed the dotted line.

This is more along the lines of touches and points.

Powell and Lowery, who have signed with Eastern Washington and Grand Canyon, respectively, make the Thunder a good team, but when a third, and sometimes even a fourth, option presents itself - as with any team - Desert Vista can play like a championship team.

Sort of like the season opening win against state contender Pinnacle as junior point guard Greg Cook stepped up and provided a third option, scoring 10 points to match Lowery and take some pressure off Powell, who scored 20.

More and more in high school basketball a successful team is about the versatility of a lineup. Sure, there are going to be scenarios where an elite player, al a Jahii Carson at Mesa in previous seasons, leads to a successful year, but it has team-oriented Mesa Mountain View coming away as state champion last season.

"It's a lot harder to defend a team when there are multiple options," Mountain Pointe coach Brian Fleming said. "That's nothing new, but I think what has become more important is the versatility of the players.

"I don't have anyone on my roster that plays one position. We don't have two guards, two forwards and a center. It's not the way the game is played anymore."

The Pride won its two first games, including an impressive 58-54 win over Brophy, despite trailing by 19 points in the third quarter, while trying to find an identity.

Mountain Pointe has four transfers, two who came over last season and sat out while practicing with the team, and two who are new to the program this year while being eligible from the start.

"We are definitely defining roles still, but the thing about it is they can all play different positions," Fleming said. "I can go with a small lineup and run four guards out there or a more traditional lineup even though we don't have a 6-9 guy."

The team has a surplus in guards with junior Khari Holloway and sophomores Jalen Brown and Austin Witherill as holdovers from last year's 22-win squad, along with the addition of senior Jordan Bellamy, who was at Mountain Pointe his freshman year but played the last two at North before returning to Knox Road for his senior year.

Bellamy, who led the team in scoring in the first game of the year with 13 along with Witherill, is coming off the bench to start after starting at North last year.

It is part of the process of developing depth and rotation.

That key to all of it for the Pride is probably senior Marcus Ramirez, who can play anywhere from shooting guard to center at 6-foot-3.

"He is so unselfish and versatile that it allows me to put different combinations out there that make it hard for us to match up."

Desert Vista has plenty of options as well although Powell, who averaged 19.2 points and 10.5 rebounds last year, is going to be the focal point.

The Thunder have players like 6-8 senior KJ Hoffman, senior guard Steve Klein, junior guard John Marshall and plenty of others to back the main two players.

"In Arizona basketball, (there are usually) two people on the team that's really good," Williams said. "We're trying to break that mold. We're 10 or 11 kids deep."

The girls game tends to be more dependent on individuals as the quality of depth is usually not as widespread as it is in the boys game.

The Thunder girls have three definite options in senior post Jaymee Brugman, junior guard Kylie Butler and sophomore guard Emily Wolph.

"We know they are going to be a big part of what we do," Desert Vista coach Rachel Proudfoot said. "It doesn't stop there. There are going to be games where we need other players to step into bigger roles."

Senior post Tinisha Toussaint, who has signed with Weber State, and freshman Kristine Anigwe give the Thunder plenty of size.

"We have already seen how teams are going to try and take away Brug," Proudfoot said. "It can be hard on her because she is so competitive and she doesn't want to let down her teammates, but when others step up it can force the attention away from (Brugman)."

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

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