West Valley Preps
For the fifth year, West Valley Preps has announced honors for the best girls basketball players it covers in the Northwest Valley. Here is the all-West Valley Preps girls basketball team:
F — Emily Henderson (Senior), Ironwood
C — Kiara Edwards (Senior), Valley Vista
G — Taylor Chavez (Junior), Valley Vista
G — Danielle Cassady (Senior), Ironwood
G — Taylor Leonard (Junior), Centennial
F — Kirsten Shinske (Senior), Cactus
F — Ali Denny (Sophomore), Willow Canyon
G — Rysha Banner (Junior), Valley Vista
G — Megan Smith (Senior), Liberty
G — Zya Monroe (Junior), Peoria
Underclassmen to watch: Brooke Hoeltge, F, (Freshman), Liberty; Jordan Kress, G, (Freshman), Mountain Ridge; Myla Lee, G, (Freshman), Cactus; Olivia Lee, C, (Freshman), Cactus; Ahsley Lifgren, F, (Freshman), Centennial; Mehgan Strickler, G/F, (Freshman), Ironwood.
Player of the year — Taylor Chavez – Back to back for the leading scorer on the 6A champions. Baylor, California, Oregon and Washington are among the six schools this junior is looking at signing with next year. She and Courtney Christmas are about the only high school girls basketball players we have seen skilled enough that their teams will regularly run clear out sets for them.
Player of the year runner-up — Emily Henderson – Already counted on to carry a large burden for a young Ironwood team, Henderson took on even more responsibilities when running mate Cassady went out for a couple midseason games. The result was a stellar senior season with averages of 19.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Henderson pushed her unique hybrid game blending guard skills and power forward rebounding and grit to its apex.
Coach of the year — Rachel Matakas, Valley Vista – Chavez’s coach also goes back to back. Matakas built the Valley Vista program from scratch and her commitment to defense and determination has made the Monsoon one of the signature girls basketball teams in the state. After years of progress and close calls she led the team through its most turbulent season, brought them closer together and celebrated the first title in school history — and the first from any team in a school from Surprise.
Runner-up — Justin Shaver, Cactus – The Cobras continued their return to one of the better 4A programs in Shaver’s second season. His use of a deep rotation and fast pace paid dividends, as Cactus is now a deep, exciting young team that pulled an upset to reach the state quarterfinals.