The unknown can be a bit scary.
When it comes to the sectional basketball tournaments, and the unfamiliarity that comes with a first-year format, it is clear the basketball coaches in Arizona are thrill seekers.
They don't want to be left outside of the fun house that is the sectional tournament.
"We get a lot of second chances, that's for sure," Desert Vista girls coach Rachel Proudfoot said. "For me, it is going to be fun for the girls to get a chance to really compete before state."
The girls sectional tournament, which is an eight-team field from each section, began Tuesday night.
The Thunder (22-5 overall, 14-4 in power points games) earned the second seed in Division I, Section III and faced No. 7 Xavier (15-9, 11-7). The two programs met on Jan. 30 with the Thunder winning handily, 61-34.
Proudfoot was alluding to possible matchups against No. 3 Pinnacle (21-5, 15-3) and No. 1 Mountain View (24-2, 17-1).
Should both teams advance Desert Vista will have to get past Pinnacle, which beat the Thunder 75-68 in the season opening game on Nov. 29, in order to make the finals.
"If it happens it will be a chance to see how far we've come and what we learned," Proudfoot said about possibly playing either Pinnacle or Mountain View again. "Or maybe it is a chance to get a game against a team we will play at state."
The state tournament starts next week with an expanded 24-team field where the top eight seeds have a bye and the next eight teams host a first-round game.
Mountain Pointe (21-8, 13-5) was tabbed as the fifth seed in the sectional and faced No. 4 Boulder Creek (22-5, 16-2) on Tuesday night. A win places them most likely against Mountain View.
The Pride can use this week by showing they belong in the top-tier of teams. Their record is impressive, but the quality of wins isn't there.
Only two of the teams Mountain Pointe beat in power point games have winning records, and one of those is Division II Maricopa. Overall, their 13 wins have come against teams that combined for an 82-128 (.390 winning percentage) record while their five defeats came against teams with a 63-27 record.
In Trevor Neider's mind that means it is a chance to prove they belong.
"We have a young team and if we can pull off a win against a team ranked higher than us that would be a big step," he said. "If we can build off that and take that momentum into the state tournament then it could open us up for a good run."
Entering Tuesday's game, Mountain Pointe was No. 18 in the overall power points. A win against Boulder Creek could push them into the top 16 and allow them to host a first-round state tournament game.
The boys tournament starts Wednesday with Desert Vista getting the No. 1 seed by having to play Chaparral (15-11, 11-7) on the Firebirds' home court simply because the location was predetermined.
The Thunder (19-7, 16-2) are on a good run currently with a string of six straight wins in power point games. They are in the odd position of knowing they are in the state tournament regardless of their sectional tournament performance.
So does Thunder coach Dave Williams look ahead and make sure his players are fresh for the state tournament and maybe substitute more than he would in a must-win situation? Or does he push his players and make sure everyone is sharp heading into the state tournament?
Mountain Pointe (14-11, 11-7) is in a different spot as the Pride lost some tough games down the stretch but still made the sectional tournament as the sixth seed against No. 3 Brophy (20-6, 14-4), a team the Pride split with during the regular season.
Mountain Pointe lost four of seven to close out the regular season, including two in a row against the Thunder and Gilbert.
It dropped them to No. 19 overall so the Pride should be assured of a postseason berth and coach Brian Fleming is happy and ready to see how it all plays out.
"We have two sophomores and two juniors in the starting lineup and we've won 14 games," he said. "I can't find any reason to be upset by this season and there is still a lot of it left. We are playing a team we've played two great games against and split them.
"We will go into it, I hope, believing we can win because we already have. Where we go from there is hard to know, but it will be interesting to see how the power points shake out after sectionals."
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