Poston Butte Bests Pesky Patriots: Three Things (x 2) We Learned

2 years ago Andrew Luberda 0

The Poston Butte and American Leadership Academy – Queen Creek boys’ basketball teams matched up in about the only place the teams could meet:  The Central Arizona Holiday Classic Tournament.

Considering their respective 5A and 3A conference affiliations, the 16-team tournament hosted by Casa Grande High School on Dec. 28-30 provided the unique opportunity for the Broncos and Patriots to square off during the final game of pool play on Dec. 29.

After leading by as many as 19 points in the first half, the Broncos had to hold off the Patriots in the second half of a 72 – 67 victory.

ALA outscored Poston Butte 46 – 38 after trailing 34 – 21 at halftime. The Patriots closed within five points with about a minute to play, but the Broncos made their free throws and plays on defense to advance to the tournament’s semifinals on Dec. 30.

“The first half was great,” Poston Butte head coach Mike Christenson told after the game. “We played hard, we were flying around, and we were getting steals, which led to easy baskets. We did pretty much whatever we wanted in the first half.”

“We knew they’d come out in the second half and make a run,” he continued. “I just didn’t think it would be because we couldn’t guard them. (The Patriots) did a good job; they didn’t settle, and they attacked us. They wanted to get to the rim and they did, and we couldn’t stop them for a while.”

ALA finished 3 – 1 in the tournament, better prepared for its upcoming region schedule.

“I’m happy with our guys, we fought,” ALA head coach Ryan McCurdy said following the loss. “We got ourselves in a hole after the first quarter.”

“Us being a 3A team, we don’t see that kind of athleticism on the court – that quickness – and it definitely affected us,” McCurdy added. “Poston does a good job of kicking the ball, moving the ball to the next guy, and using their athleticism to their advantage. It took us out of our game plan.”



Poston Butte Leaderboard:

Points:  Cory Barnes (Jr) – 23, Logan Hatch (Sr) – 16, Kevin Johnson (Sr) – 11, Pierce Anderson (Sr) – 10.

Assists:  Johnson – 5, Jacob Motley (Sr) – 5.

Rebounds:  Hatch – 6, Motley – 4, Cesar Lopez (Sr) – 4.

ALA Leaderboard:

Points:  Stone Smith (Jr) – 23, Anthony Gonzales (Sr) – 13, Devon Brooke (So) – 12, Zach Anderson (Sr) – 10.

Assists:  Brooke – 2, Anderson – 2.

Rebounds:  Anderson – 7, Brooke – 4, Spencer Tyler (Sr) – 3.

Here are three things (x 2) we learned:

Poston Butte

Cory Barnes puts in a layup in the Dec. 29 game.

No Argument – Cory Barnes, a second-year varsity player, and the only non-senior in the Broncos’ starting lineup, was the best player on the court versus the Patriots. He scored a game-high 23 points and was clutch down the stretch from the free-throw line, hitting 7-of-8, which allowed Poston Butte to hang on for the win.  “Cory is at his best when he’s making shots and he gets other guys involved, and he did a very good job of that tonight,” Christenson said.

Poston Butte senior Kevin Johnson (3) launches one of the Broncos’ 17 3-pointers.

Shooters Shoot – The Broncos like to shoot the “3,” as evidenced by their 344 three-point attempts in 17 games so far this season. They put up 17 three-pointers against ALA, which was just below their average of 20 attempts per game.

Going Deep – Christenson utilizes his entire roster, with good reason. The Broncos sport 11 seniors on the roster, which makes it easier to use a number of players in games. Against the Patriots, 10 different players made an appearance in the game with eight of them tallying on the scoresheet.



Stone Smith.

Second to None – I said previously that Cory Barnes was the best player on the court in this game, but I could argue against myself that Stone Smith was. The junior guard tied Barnes with a game-high 23 points, including 17 in the second half, 13 of those in the fourth quarter. “Stone Smith is one of those kids who is relentless offensively,” McCurdy said. “He’s got that offensive mind, where he is always in attack mode. He’s the one kid, for us, that can get to the rim at will.”

Tailor Made – If Coach McCurdy wanted to fit his guys with suits, most of them would need tall suit coats with long sleeves. The Patriots have nine players that measure 6-foot-2 or taller, including Tanner Mclachlan and Devon Brooke – both 6-foot-7 – and 6-foot-6 Dylan Wallace.

Devon Brooke (23) starts the Patriots’ offensive set with Poston Butte’s Pierce Anderson (11) defending.

D-Brooke – During a recent conversation about 6-foot-7 sophomore point guard Devon Brooke, I mistakenly called him, “Devin Booker.” Replace a vowel and move an “r” and it works. Brooke is raw, but he looks like a player, and is rare commodity – at his size – at the point. He scored 12 points against the Broncos, seven of them in the third quarter that helped get his team back in the game. After being only a role player as a freshman, Brooke is playing valuable minutes in his second varsity season. “Devon is learning every game right now,” McCurdy said. “He’s the starting point guard and he’s doing a good job. He takes care of the ball and gets us going offensively.”

Editor’s note:  The Broncos went on to defeat Maricopa in the semifinals, 73 – 61, before losing to Goldwater in overtime of the championship game, 66 – 62.