Coming into this season, it had been six years since the Sahuaro boys last played in the state tournament.

It won't be seven.

The Cougars not only reached the playoffs but won their second-round matchup Saturday night. Today, they will face top-seeded Phoenix Sunnyslope in the Division II state quarterfinals at Arena in Glendale.

"I'm pretty excited for them to have this opportunity," Sahuaro coach Jim Henry said. "You don't know how many times you will get a chance to go this far in the tournament."

Sahuaro is one of three Southern Arizona teams playing today in Glendale.

Here's a look at how each of the teams got here, and whom they will face today:

No. 8 Sahuaro

Record: 22-9

Road to Glendale: The Cougars have won their past two matchups against Phoenix-area schools, including Saturday's second-round game against Scottsdale Saguaro. The Cougars rallied from a 13-point deficit.

Big man on the floor: Arthur Gibson's defensive effort in the post has helped the rest of teammates improve. He's averaging 3.3 blocks a game.

Opposite side of the court: No. 1 Sunnyslope (27-3) is riding an 11-game win streak into the quarterfinals. Senior guard Isaiah Cota is averaging 16 points a game during that stretch.

Key to win: "I think the big key is going to be offensive execution. We are going to have to take care of every possession," Henry said.

No. 7 Nogales

Record: 23-6

Road to Glendale: This is the fourth consecutive year the Apaches have played in the state tournament. Nogales squeaked by Poston Butte for a 59-57 second-round win behind the play of Bryan Cervantes' 19 points.

Big man on the floor: Andres Marquez has been the offensive sparkplug for the Apaches. He's averaging 19 points and 2.4 assists per game.

Opposite side of the court: No. 18 Avondale Agua Fria (16-12) is coming off an upset victory over Catalina Foothills. Aaron Hall leads the Owls with 17.9 points per game.

Key to win: "If we crash the boards and make good choices on transition. we should be able to get by Agua Fria. They are not a big team, but they play scrappy," Apaches coach Ricardo De La Riva said.

No. 6 Salpointe Catholic

Record: 21-10

Road to Glendale: The Lancers have won five of their last six games, which has them in the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

Big man on the floor: Cameron Denson has been on fire, averaging 17.5 points per game since the section tournament began Feb. 6.

Opposite side of the court: No. 3 Phoenix Sierra Linda (27-2) is led by the senior trio of Jonathan Matthews, Damian Mendoza and Edgar Sarmineto, who combine to average 42.2 points per game.

Key to win: "They are quick. They play full court most of the game, and us breaking their pressure will be a key, which we have tended to do well at all season," coach Brian Holstrom said.

On StarNet: Read more high school basketball news with StarNet's blog "High School Hot Shots" at

Weather Forecast Washes out tournament start

The threat of rain has postponed the start of the Cowboy Up Classic baseball tournament at Kino Sports Complex until Thursday.

The 17-team tournament was set to open this afternoon with four games at 4 p.m. and two more at 7 p.m.. Instead, those games will be played starting Thursday at 10 a.m.

Thursday's schedule will now include 16 total games.

A complete revised Cowboy Up Classic schedule is available online at blogs/high-school-hot-shots/

Daniel Gaona


What: Division II boys state quarterfinals at Arena

Who: No. 6 Salpointe Catholic vs. No. 3 Phoenix Sierra Linda, 4:15 p.m. No. 7 Nogales vs. No. 18 Avondale Agua Fria, 6 p.m. No. 8 Sahuaro vs. No. 1 Phoenix Sunnyslope, 7:45 p.m.