It’s going to happen at some point.

That much is known. Who is involved and the end result are not. At least for now.

Soon, however, the winter sports will enter the second season where there are no second chances.

Some thrive in the postseason atmosphere when there is more at stake and others pass, literally, to their teammates.

There will be upsets, surprising performances and game-on-the-line decisions to be made.

Who will be counted on to come through to keep the postseason alive like Jahii Carson did for Mesa boys basketball three seasons ago or what Riggs Lennon can do for Brophy soccer this season.

Only time will tell, but it is clear the area has some special athletes who thrive in such situations.

Surprise, surprise

Two seasons ago, Desert Vista wrestler Kendall Love had the greatest tournament of his life, winning the state title in helping the Thunder to a third-place finish at state.

He didn’t really show that type of talent or mental focus before or after, but from that day forward he will always be a state champion.

The Horizon Honors boys soccer team might have a similar fate although asking to win the Division III title might be a little too much. The Eagles do have the ability to surprise some teams when the postseason gets under way this week.

The coaching staff adjusted its formation midseason to take advantage of the speed and talent of Austin Howard and Jordan Mattouk. The Eagles were still adjusting during the second half of the season and if the players get fully in sync Horizon Honors could go on a historic run for the program.

Usual suspects

Most teams have a go-to guy or gal that they know will step up in big situations.

Mountain Pointe senior guard Khari Holloway fits the mold for the Pride’s boys basketball team as does Desert Vista senior Rachel Ressler in girls soccer and Thunder senior Alex Bambic, a two-time state champion in wrestling.

When the game is on the line coaches tend to go to those who have that little something extra that separates themselves from everyone else.

They are talented, but stay calm in difficult situations. They may not even always come through, but that’s what makes them even better because they still want the ball at the end, no matter what.

“Big-time players come up big in big games,” Holloway said earlier this season.

They are the known quantities, meaning the opposition will be ready for them.

It can open the door for secondary players to step into the spotlight.

Stepping up

There are times when the fate of a team can fall into the hands of someone who normally doesn’t have such responsibility. Maybe it is an offensive putback by a player only because a starter fouled out or a midfielder who sneaks a header past the goalie on an errant shot toward that goal. You never know when an opportunity will present itself, so always be prepared. It is why coaches say it over and over again.

And in the postseason it’s even more vital.


Whether it is a senior seeing there is an expiration date on his playing career or someone who wasn’t getting the playing time like Desert Vista’s Emily Wolph, who wasn’t getting as much playing time under the previous coach but is now back to running the Thunder girls basketball team through its paces. Maybe Desert Vista junior wrestler Matt Mathers approaches greatness after being broken down my expectations (his brother was a three-time state champion) and burn out to place high at the state tournament.

“When you are a senior you want to go out on top,” Ressler said. “You know you only have so much time with this group you’ve been playing with since you were little. You don’t want it to end.”

Out-of-body, in-the-zone performances happen all of the time in sports.

At this point in the season, it is only a matter of when.

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

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