The truth, the whole truth, half-truths, shades of the truth and other items admissible as sports news:
ITEM I:Sunnyside junior Roman Bravo-Young won his third state wrestling championship Saturday. His numbers might catch your eye: Bravo-Young was 47-0 this year and is now 130-0 in his Blue Devil career. In the state finals, he won four matches with ridiculous ease: a pin in 1:37 and another in 1:19. In the other matches, he won 18-6 and 14-4.
According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, only one wrestler in state history, Morenci’s Waldo Gutierrez has won more consecutive matches, 178, from 2000-03. About the only suspense of Bravo-Young’s senior year, 2017-18, will be if he can wrestle in two more matches than he did this year to push past Gutierrez and become the most successful prep wrestler in Arizona history at 179-0.
Now if only Bravo-Young could figure out why he has yet to be chosen the state’s wrestler of the year.
ITEM II:The depth of Lauri Markkanen’s six-game shooting slump is almost mystifying. He is 14 for 41 (or 34 percent). But maybe it’s no more mysterious than a .300 baseball hitter going 0 for 4 .
There is recent precedent that an NBA-bound Arizona freshman has slumped in February and rallied for an in-your-face March finish.
In February 2014, Aaron Gordon shot 11 for 42 (or 26 percent) in a stretch of games against Utah, Stanford, Cal and Oregon. Worse, Gordon went 7 for 24 from the foul line in that period.
Followers of UA basketball almost freaked out, and, remember, Gordon was never known as a Markkanen-type pure shooter.
But when Arizona opened the 2014 NCAA Tournament against Weber State, Gonzaga and San Diego State, Gordon came off as a Splash Brother. He was 22 for 30 (73 percent) in three tournament victories, averaging 16.3 points.
On Saturday, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said he was so tired he felt “like I’ve been hit by a train.” He gave his team Sunday and Monday off to recoup from the strain of a long season.
I suspect all Markkanen needs is a chance to kick back and hit the reset button. He has played without stop, in college and national competition and workouts, since April.
ITEM III:Salpointe Catholic won the girls state soccer championship over the weekend, which fortified Tucson’s status as Soccer City. It was the 44th state title by a Tucson girls or boys high school team dating to 1985.
The Lancers have now won five girls championships under five coaches: Matt Panitinto in 1990; Julian Friend in 1992; Jill McCartney in 1998; and Alesha Kientzler in 1999.
But what separates coach Becky Barry Freeman’s 2017 state championship from the others is that she is one of the leading names in Tucson soccer history. She came up through the ranks at the Tucson Soccer Academy, was a team captain at Salpointe, spent four years playing at Arizona and was also the UA’s team captain, and earned her coaching stripes by being a Lancers assistant and serving 11 years as a coach in the TSA system.
In three seasons at Salpointe, Freeman is 60-10-3 and you wonder how she has time to put it all together. She is the mother of a 6-month-old , Ryker, and is the deputy director of the Southern Arizona Office for Gov. Doug Ducey.
That’s one impressive résumé.
It wouldn’t be any surprise if Freeman and the Lancers win another title in 2018; four of the leading players from Saturday’s championship team — Kate Connelly, Kalista Kakou, Catalina Alvarado and Paloma Teran — will return.
ITEM IV:The AIA on Sunday produced its equivalent of Selection Sunday for the boys and girls state high school basketball tournaments, brackets and all.
Tucson’s highest seed was The Gregory School, 25-1, the top overall seed in the boys 1A category.
A.J. Albritton’s Hawks won’t have any home-court advantage; all of their tournament games will be played in Prescott, unfortunately.
The seed that seems to be in error is that Izzy Galindo’s 25-1 Pueblo Warriors girls team was awarded a No. 5 seed in Class 4A. That means if Pueblo beats No. 12 seed Moon Valley at home Tuesday, it would likely have to play No. 4 seed Flagstaff High in Flagstaff on Friday.
As recently as Jan. 28, Flagstaff lost to Buckeye 69-36. Pueblo hasn’t lost since Nov. 25.
How can you go 25-1 and be a No. 5 seed?
At least Galindo and his team know what it’s like to fight through adversity: Vandals destroyed the Pueblo gymnasium last month, forcing the Warriors to move to their old practice gym; they even had to play a home game on the road.
Pueblo is 50-6 the last two seasons. To win the state title, the team will have become the true Road Warriors.
ITEM LAST: Most analysts would say the Big Two of the remaining Pac-12 basketball schedule goes in this order:
1. UCLA at Arizona, Feb. 25.
2. Oregon at Cal, Feb. 22.
But there’s a third game that will likely be as meaningful, dramatic and anticipated (or feared) as the Big Two. That’s when Arizona finishes the league season March 4 at Arizona State.
The finale in Tempe has been Arizona’s Game From Hell over the last 25 years.
In 1994, No. 7 Arizona, 14-3, bound for the Final Four, lost to a 9-8 Sun Devil team in Tempe, 94-87. Home cooking? ASU sank a ridiculous 45 free throws. ASU finished the season 14-12.
In 2005, No. 11 Arizona, which reached the Elite Eight, was again 14-3 in conference and had to get some last-second magic — a Salim Stoudamire jumper with 0.6 seconds left — to edge the 7-10 Sun Devils, 70-68.
In 2012, the 12-5 Wildcats lost to the 5-12 Sun Devils in Tempe, 87-80. A journeyman named Jonathan Gilling swished five 3-pointers. The Sun Devils finished 9-20.
So don’t put a bow on the season after next week’s UCLA-Arizona showdown at McKale. When the final game of the regular season is in Tempe, bedlam reigns.