Less than 30 minutes after Sierra Vista Buena suffered a season-ending loss in the second round of the Division I state tournament Saturday night, Colts coach Dave Glasgow told me something bold.
"I guarantee there will be multiple teams from Southern Arizona in the Final Four next year in Division II," Glasgow said.
He could be right.
Southern Arizona will be a hotbed for high school boys basketball next season. Almost everyone who made the playoffs returns a strong squad, and Glasgow's idea could hold true.
In fact, it almost happened this year.
Had a few things gone differently in the Division II quarterfinals, Sahuaro and Nogales could have joined Salpointe Catholic in the semifinals and put three Southern Arizona squads in the Final Four.
Buena, Cienega and Sunnyside all pulled off first-round upsets on the road in Division I this year, and will be among the favorites to go far in Division II next year.
Don't forget Catalina Foothills, either. The Falcons lost to Avondale Agua Fria in the second round of the Division II state tournament, but they'll definitely be back next year.
Out of all those teams, Nogales will have to do the most rebuilding because its team was made up mostly of seniors, including Andres Marquez, Miguel Corrales and Bryan Cervantes, who were huge for the Apaches this season.
Foothills loses five seniors but returns seven players, including juniors Chaz Mack and Austin Nelhs and sophomore Dakota Kordsiemon. Mack and Nehls each averaged around 20 points a game and will definitely be title-hungry next year.
"We're hoping with those three guys we can put something together," Foothills coach Mark Felix said.
Salpointe returns its top five scorers, including junior Cameron Denson. Amphitheater and Canyon del Oro also went to the Division II state tournament, and both return their leading scorers. Cholla loses leading scorer Julio Duarte but has seven players coming back.
"With all the teams coming down from Division I and all the good teams already in Division II, it's going to be tough," Cholla coach Masai Dean said. "Division II might be the toughest league in the state."
Buena is losing leading scorer RaShawn Avery, but the Colts might have the youngest team in the entire state with the help of sophomore point guard Roderick Springer who averaged 9.0 points and 3.1 assists a game and scored in double figures in seven of the last 10 games. They also return junior Gilbert Pinckney, who averaged 10.4 points and 7.1 rebounds a game.
"It's the best sophomore class we've had, but it guarantees us absolutely nothing," Glasgow said. "Especially next year when everybody is going to be really good. We have to keep working."
Cienega hung with third-seeded Phoenix Pinnacle in the second round of the Division I state tournament. Coach Matt Johnson hopes the effort can spark the team next year; sophomore Terrence Johnson and junior Shane Burton who both average 11 points a game, return.
"We lose two seniors and only one starter, so I'd like to think that we're in that picture," Johnson said. "It's going to be an exciting year next year."
First-year Sunnyside coach Rob Harrison loses a group of seniors, including leading scorer Raul Castro, but can build a team around freshman Jacob Inclan, who averaged 13.7 points per game in the second half of the season.
"I'm biased, of course, because I coach him, but Jacob is the best freshman I've seen all year," Harrison said.
Sahuaro proved it was legitimate by going 22-10; next season it could do even better. The Cougars essentially have their whole team coming back, including juniors James Molina and Arthur Gibson who led the team in scoring.
"It's going be exciting. It's going to be really exciting," Sahuaro coach Jim Henry said. "Especially now that everyone down in Southern Arizona is in Division II next year."
Rangers hoping to name football coach next week
Rincon/University athletic director Hank Matz said the school is in the final process of appointing a football coach and that he's hoping it can be done by the end of next week.
Appointing someone rather than hiring them both expedites the process and allows the Rangers to have someone jump in immediately for Nate Gahn, who recently accepted the offensive coordinator job at Pima College.
However, the appointee will have to re-apply for the job after next season and officially be hired.
Cholla boys volleyball team is dropped
Cholla will not have a boys volleyball team this year due to low numbers and eligibility, athletic director Peggy Baker said.
The school will still host the season-opening TUSD Invitational on March 1-2. The event will feature 16 local teams.
"We didn't get enough kids out to field a team that were eligible," Baker said. "Hopefully it will all come back next year."
Contact reporter Daniel Gaona at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-7761. On Twitter @dgaona13.