Fri, May 24

2003-04 All-Area Basketball Team<br><i>The cream of the crop from this winter</i>

Staff photo by Eric Lusk

AMY Showers in action.

Camp Verde’s girls continued to shine in the 3A West, earning a third-straight trip to the tournament championship game and state playoffs.

Sedona Red Rock’s girls surged over the final month and advanced to the 3A tournament for the first time since moving up from Class 2A.

Three new coaches joined the local hoops scene – Susan Holm (Mingus girls), John Willey (Camp Verde boys) and Eric Peterson (Sedona boys). All three fielded competitive, young teams and built a solid foundation for future success.

As we close the books on the ‘03-04 campaign, we pay tribute to the young men and women who kept us on the edge of our seats the past few months — the Verde Valley Newspapers All-Area Basketball Team.

This year’s group features 10 first-teamers followed by 16 honorable mention selections. The good news – most of these players are underclassmen and will grace our local basketball courts again next winter.

The Top 10

• AMY SHOWERS (CVHS): If we had a season MVP trophy to give out this year, it would go to the Cowboy junior hands-down. Despite intense defensive pressure from most foes, Showers managed to score nearly 23 points per game, leading Camp Verde to a 22-9 overall record and 13-4 mark against West teams.

Her hard work – leading the Cowboys in nearly every statistical category – grabbed the attention of coaches around the rest of the region.

Showers outdueled Chino Valley standout Stacy Haddow for region MVP honors even though Chino won the league with an undefeated record. The best news of all – local fans get one more year to watch Showers play in a Cowboys uniform.

• MEGAN REDDELL (CVHS): The Cowboys certainly weren’t a one-woman show by any means. Yes, Showers was a star, but she definitely benefited from a strong supporting cast.

Enter Reddell, a senior, who played guard. She was a multi-tooled player, who could score when needed, play tough defense, rebound and dish out assists.

Reddell joined Showers in the all-West Region first team. She finished with 100 assists for the season and a 9 points-per-game average.

• DANA RILEY (CVHS): There were a lot of question marks surrounding the point guard position when exchange student Camille Fosset returned to France after last season.

But Riley stepped up and did an admirable of running the show. The junior could score when left open – as evidenced by a 22-point night during the season – and played tough defense. She had 34 steals on the year and averaged 3.4 rebounds per game, earning second-team all-region.

• ELISSA BANUELOS (MINGUS): When Banuelos came out for softball as a freshman last spring, then-coach Steve Wombacher called her one of the best pure athletes in the whole school.

She proved that again during the winter hoops season, leading the Marauders in scoring despite being a first-year varsity player. The sophomore, who earned honorable mention all-region, will be exciting to watch over the next two years.

• GABY BUCH (SEDONA): The Scorpions made a surprise run to the state playoffs, and they have a sophomore standout of their own to thank for it. Buch, a three-sport star who also plays soccer and softball, gave Sedona a stellar leader in the backcourt.

Like Banuelos, she possesses great athleticism, speed and determination. She led the voting for Sedona in the all-region balloting, landing on the first team.

• JESSE JOHNS (SEDONA): The Scorpions had plenty of big shoes to fill following the graduation of standouts like Raleigh Gibson, Johnny Cunningham and Kevin Williamson, who led SRHHS to a region title in ’03.

Enter Johns, who stands a big 6-8 in his high tops. The junior center learned to score in the paint and swatted away tons of shots when opponents dared to attack the basket. He earned first-team all-region status after putting up 14.7 points per game — second-best on the team.

• TYLER WENNET (MINGUS): The Marauders have been outsized by most 4A foes the past few seasons, but that all changed this year. Tyler Wennet gave coach Woods’ team a 6-6 presence in the lane, and foes learned quickly it wouldn’t be easy to score inside.

Wennet played a big role in neutralizing Page’s tallest player, 6-10 center James Anderson, in the Marauders’ big upset in February. Region coaches took notice and named Wennet to the second-team all-GCR list.

He’ll be back next season, and a few college coaches may be in the stands to watch.

• CHRIS BURNS (SEDONA): The Scorpions’ leading scorer had a "street-ball" quality about him that proved fun to watch. The senior point guard led Sedona in scoring, pumping in more than 16 points per contest.

He had no fear on the court and could hurt teams with his offensive or defensive abilities. West Region coaches voted Burns to the second-team honors list following the season.

• CASEY THOMPSON (CVHS): What Amy Showers was to the girls team, Thompson was for the boys – a money shooter from the outside.

Thompson, just a sophomore, averaged more than 15 points per game and often increased his scoring totals three at a time – i.e. making swishes from behind the arc. He made 54 shots from in all and posted an average of 36 percent when shooting from 3-point land.

Thompson proved fierce on the boards as well, recording about nine rebounds per game. The second-team all-region performer will be one to watch next year.

• DMITRI ZAGAR (MINGUS): If his name doesn’t get your attention, his play on the court certainly will. Zagar tore it up for the Marauder freshman team a year ago, and made the jump to varsity starter this season.

The honorable mention all-Grand Canyon Region pick had multiple talents. He could handle the ball well. He could score. And with his size – he’s already 6-3 – he could bang around inside with the big boys from other schools.

Mingus didn’t make the state playoffs this season, but with Zagar and Wennet both coming back that could very well change in 2004-05.