A look at who stood out during the first two weeks of region play in Arizona high school girls basketball (players are nominated by their coaches and listed in alphabetical order). Vote in our Twitter poll below for top overall performer:
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Amya Bekele, Mesa Red Mountain, G, So.
At 4-11, Red Mountain has had a tough start to this season. Bekele, though, has been a bright spot. In Thursday’s three-point loss to Mesa Mountain View, she had 16 of Red Mountain’s 33 points along with four rebounds, two steals and a block.
Trayanna Crisp, Goodyear Millennium, G, Sr.
It’s no surprise to see Crisp filling her seemingly weekly spot on this list. After scoring 14 in Millennium’s last-second loss to Surprise Valley Vista, she put up a combined 55 in wins over Waddell Canyon View and Gilbert.
Eanae Dagons, Phoenix Desert Vista, G, So.
Dagons runs the show for Desert Vista on both ends of the floor by heading up its sweltering press and serving as coach Dave Williams’ starting point guard. She served both roles effectively in Monday’s win over Chandler Basha, finishing with 18 points, six assists and five steals.
Sasha Daniel, Chandler Seton Catholic, G, Sr.
In three straight blowout wins coming out of the Christmas break for Seton Catholic, Daniel averaged 17.3 points per game on 56% shooting. In 17 games, she’s scored in single digits just twice.
Madi Dawson, Queen Creek, G/F, Jr.
Queen Creek snapped a three-game losing streak on Jan. 11 against Mesa Desert Ridge. Dawson was critical in that effort, scoring 21 of the Bulldogs’ 45 points while also notching five assists and six rebounds.
Mackenzie Dunham, Sunrise Mountain, F, Jr.
With five straight wins to start 2022, Sunrise Mountain has established itself among the best teams in 5A at 14-2. Dunham put up one of the finest performances of that stretch, scoring 17 points and grabbing 13 boards in the Mustangs’ 54-25 win over Surprise Willow Canyon on Jan. 7.
Kelsey Ericksen, Surprise Shadow Ridge, G, Sr.
Ericksen has been a steady force for 13-7 Shadow Ridge. In three games in 2022 — all wins — she has 18, 12 and 15 points.
Talia Estrada, Leading Edge Academy-GEC, G, Sr.
Down in 1A, Estrada has been dominant for Leading Edge Academy. In consecutive wins over Scottsdale Cicero Prep and Bullhead City Mohave Accelerated last week, she had 55 points, while adding an impressive 10 steals in the latter contest.
Janae Floyd, Glendale Mountain Ridge, F, Jr.
At No. 11 in the AIA’s latest 6A rankings, Mountain Ridge hasn’t gotten as much love this season as its 17-1 record would suggest. The Mountain Lions, though, have bounced back well from their only loss of the year with three straight wins. Floyd has been huge in that stretch. She scored 20 on Jan. 11 against Anthem Boulder Creek before following that up with 21 the next night against Peoria Liberty.
Leyah Gewargis, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, G, Sr.
Allowing just 35.7 points per game in its 13-3 start, O’Connor typically hangs its hat on defense. In Jan. 11’s 52-31 win over Scottsdale Chaparral, though, the Eagles got 20 points and four assists from Gewargis — her highest totals of the season in both categories.
Brooke Hancock, Scottsdale Christian, F, Sr.
Hancock led the Eagles with 19 points in their 49-44 win over Phoenix Christian on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They’re now 9-5 on the season.
Rayn Holton, Queen Creek Casteel, G, Sr.
Despite standing 5-foot-7 and playing in the backcourt, Holton has established herself as a dominant force on the boards this season. In Casteel’s Jan. 13 win over Gilbert Williams Field, she had 16 rebounds to go with a team-high 21 points.
Ashiian Hunter, Mesa, G, Jr.
Hunter posted her first single-digit game of the season in last week’s 47-35 win over Mesa Skyline, but she’s still averaging 19.0 points per game in the new year and 18.8 on the season. Plus, in that Skyline game, she recorded a new season high with seven assists.
Ella Malee, Chandler Hamilton, G, So.
Malee averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game in consecutive wins over Chandler Basha and Tempe Corona del Sol this week. Now, the schedule turns tough for the Huskies, with games against Gilbert Perry and Phoenix Xavier Prep up next.
Sarah Miller, Phoenix Xavier Prep, G, So.
The reason Xavier Prep is so tough? Well, it’s simple. They have Miller, who’s arguably the best sophomore in the state. With 19.8 points per game, she’s been immense for the Gators this season and last week, she posted a new career high with 35 points against Phoenix South Mountain.
Ava Pautz, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, G/F, So.
Over the past month, Notre Dame Prep has battled both injuries and COVID-19. Pautz, though, has anchored the Saints. She’s averaging 18.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game and kicked off 2022 with back-to-back 20-point performances.
Aiyanna Perkins, Tempe McClintock, G, Fr.
Despite being a freshman, Perkins has been McClintock’s best player in its 9-6 start, averaging over 20 points per game. On Jan. 4, she had her best performance yet with a season-high 35 points in a win over Avondale West Point.
Arianna Rayford, Phoenix Paradise Valley, C, Sr.
In Paradise Valley’s first two games of section play, Rayford scored 37 points — 68.5% of the Trojans’ total scoring total. She also added 16 rebounds in that stretch.
Macy Rojas, Peoria Centennial, G, Sr.
Thanks to Rojas, Centennial notched its most impressive win of the season on Friday against Yuma Gila Ridge. In the 10-point win, Rojas scored 22 of the Coyotes’ 36 points.
Ashlyn Swenson, Chandler Basha, G, Sr.
Swenson scored a career-high 18 points in Basha’s 45-25 win over Scottsdale Chaparral on Thursday. She got much of her work done at the line, hitting six free throws to help the Bears snap a two-game losing streak.
Dillon Swindle, Phoenix Desert Vista, G, Fr.
Swindle — Desert Vista’s leading scorer — had 25 points in the Thunder’s 70-40 win over Gilbert Highland on Friday. All six of their games in 2022 have been wins by more than 20 points.
Miquedah Taliman, Page, G, Sr.
Taliman has become a regular on this list in Page’s eight-game win streak. A pair of nail-biting wins this week showed why. First, she hit a game-winning pair of free throws to beat Whiteriver Alchesay, 59-58. Two days later, she made a critical three-point play to beat Chinle, 39-37. Across the two wins, Taliman averaged 18.5 points per game.
Theo Mackie covers Arizona high school sports and Phoenix Rising FC. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @theo_mackie.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona girls HS basketball top performers to start region play