Soccer kicks off winter sports postseason

2014-02-03T00:00:00Z Soccer kicks off winter sports postseasonBy Daniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

When the high school soccer state tournament begins Tuesday night, it will kick off a wild four-week stretch of non-stop action.

Buckle your seatbelts.

Boys soccer starts the stretch, which will last until the basketball state championships on March 1. There will be 10 local boys teams playing first-round games Tuesday and nine girls soccer teams from Southern Arizona playing Wednesday.

Second-round games will be played Saturday, the same day as state-qualifying section tournaments for wrestling. On top of all that, the regular season for basketball will come to an end Friday night. Here are four things to watch in this busy week:

TUESDAY

Boys soccer: Fourth- seeded and undefeated Tucson High will be going for its seventh straight win when it opens up the Division II state tournament by hosting No. 13 Cienega at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Sophomore forward Julian Gaona has scored a team-high 27 goals for the 20-0-3 Badgers, who are in the state playoffs for the third straight year and have outscored opponents 29-3 in their last six matches. Cienega has won four straight matches since losing to Tucson 4-0 on Jan. 17,

Before the Badgers and Bobcats take the field, No. 5 Nogales will play Glendale at Tucson at 5 p.m. The winners of those two games will meet in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

WEDNESDAY

Girls soccer: The Ironwood Ridge girls will also be hosting a doubleheader in the first round, but it won’t play the winner of the early game.

In Division III play, seventh-seeded Rio Rico, three years removed from a winless season, will face No. 10 Phoenix Country Day at 5 p.m. on the Nighthawks’ turf, two hours before they host No. 13 Gilbert Campo Verde in Division II action.

The No. 7 Nighthawks tied Tempe Corona del Sol, the No. 10 team in Division I, to close out the season and has only lost to top-seeded Catalina Foothills.

With a win, I-Ridge would likely play at No. 5 Sahuaro on Saturday.

THURSDAY

Boys basketball: Both Amphitheater and Sunnyside lost at Sabino last week but both remain well in the hunt for a spot in the Division II state tournament. However, when the two face off this week there’s a chance the loser will be knocked out.

The 15th-ranked Blue Devils host the No. 20 Panthers on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the final game of the regular season for both teams.

Sophomore Jacob Inclan shot 69 percent from the field for 21 points for Sunnyside in a 70-55 loss to at Sabino on Thursday, while senior Michael Perkins scored 26 for Amphitheater in a 72-69 loss to the Sabercats last Monday.

FRIDAY

Girls basketball: Sahuaro has won 10 straight games heading into the final week of the regular season and is certainly going to be in the Division II state playoffs.

Meanwhile, 24th-ranked Nogales has won four straight and is in a position to make the playoffs as well. The Apaches host the No. 15 Cougars at 7 p.m. Friday and could possibly face them again in the section tournament the following week.

A win for Nogales on Friday could be just enough to qualify it for the state playoffs that begin on Feb. 19 regardless of what happens at sectionals.

Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at dgaona@azstarnet.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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