#9 Hoop Gals, #15 ‘The Gumps’ at State; Same venue vs. #8 Peoria Girls, #2 Peoria Guys

Ladies in 8th straight State Tournament; Guys, 1st since 2007

CSHS – Former Head Coach Bill Dolezal (now STMS principal) is rightfully credited with laying the foundation for a competitive Girls Basketball program at Cactus Shadows. His Lady Falcons went to three consecutive States, including a “Final Four” loss to then (Flagstaff) Sinagua in ’06. Ably succeeded by present Head Coach Ryan Pletnick in 2007, the 2010-2011 LadyBirds made it eight-States-in-a-row (including “Final Fours” in each of Coach Pletnick’s four seasons), when they tipped off against Peoria’s Lady Panthers, late Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 15.

Whether they won or lost (they dropped a tough 47-52 decision to the Lady Panthers ‘way back on Nov. 30 in the first game of the 2010-2011 regular season), Coach Pletnick and his “repeat” Desert Sky Region champs are to be congratulated on continuing to build upon an impressive Girls Basketball tradition.

With the exception of senior Rachel Manak’s right wrist injury (she told me today she’s at 80 percent which definitely affects her outside shot), the LadyBirds were healthy, hoping to move on to Friday’s Quarters against the winner of #1 Shadow Mountain vs. #16 Bradshaw Mountain. Coach Pletnick: “You know, we opened our season against Peoria, then Shadow Mountain. Now here we are, up against the same two teams. We’ll see how much we’ve improved.”

I’ve come, in the best of fun, to nickname the Hoop Guys “The Gumps”: as in Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, i.e., you never know which Falcon team you’re gonna get.

Despite their inconsistency, the mark of a team rostering only two seniors (Co-Captains Casey Perrin and Max Gersh), the Falcons finished a respectable 14-10 – their first winning record since 2006-2007. Five of their ten losses came in tournament play, four of which were winnable games. Their five regular season losses (two each to Saguaro and McClintock and one to Notre Dame) were clear-cut.

After three straight discouraging performances (Saguaro, McClintock, Notre Dame), “The Gumps”, respiratory-ailing, sucked it up at Camp Verde, Wednesday, Feb. 9, branding the Broncos, 77-40. That win clinched the Falcons’ first Playoffs berth since 2006-2007.

Congratulations are more than due Head Coach Tyler Dummett and Assistant Coach Jamaal Scott in their inaugural season.

On Nov. 30, at home, the Falcons shocked Peoria, 78-65. Coach Dummett: “That night was our best shooting effort of the season. Everybody was on. To beat Peoria at home in the 1st Round of State, we’ll have to do that again.” But the Falcs’ locker room as of Monday afternoon looked like Sick Bay: Perrin, Mike Rabanni, Trevor O’Hearn, Eric Johnson, Austin Paciora, all not at full strength, probably seeing limited floor time. “I really wish we had all our guys so we could get in there and battle with the #2 seed,” Coach Dummett told Sonoran News on Valentine’s Day. “We’ll have to give our very best with whoever can go.”

Hey, Gals and “Gumps”! Thanks for an exciting basketball home season. You had Barrett Gym rockin’!