Releasing their initial rankings as teams begin to break from regular season play for the holidays, the Arizona Interscholastic Association placed a few local teams at or near the top of their respective conferences.
The Flagstaff girls basketball team debuted at No. 1 in the 4A Conference, edging last year’s state finalists Cactus Shadows and Seton Catholic. While the Falcons ended the Eagles’ season a year ago in the state semifinals, Flagstaff’s 7-0 record has it one spot above No. 2 Cactus Shadows and its 8-0 record.
Among the Eagles’ double-digit regular season victories are Saturday’s 67-41 stomping of No. 4 Thunderbird and a 60-28 win over No. 12 Bradshaw Mountain in the season opener.
On the boys side, the Coconino Panthers rank as the top team in town, sitting at No. 4 in Mike Moran’s first season back. Sitting at 6-0 in the regular season, the Panthers rank among the teams with the most games played already this season after adding 10 games between tournaments at Sedona and Flagstaff.
Holding a 54-48 victory against No. 11 Peoria and a 60-42 win versus No. 12 Prescott, Coconino does not have any games left on its schedule against a team currently ranked inside the top 10 of the 4A Conference.
While the Coconino boys hold the school’s top ranking, the Coconino girls open the rankings at No. 7, making the school just one of five that have both its boys and girls inside the top 10 of 4A. Sitting at 5-1, with a lone regular season loss to Page, the Panthers combine with the Eagles and Bradshaw Mountain Bears to give the Grand Canyon region three teams in the conference’s top 12, with only the Skyline Region doing the same.
Elsewhere in the rankings, the Flagstaff boys (5-2) open at No. 16, with the No. 12 Prescott Badgers standing as a potential challenge in the region in addition to Coconino. The Northland Prep boys (4-3) reside at No. 26 in 2A despite holding a win over 4A No. 20 Lee Williams and the girls (1-3) sit at No. 33.
The Basis Flagstaff boys (1-3) opened at No. 34, with their win over No. 13 Greyhills Academy in the Pepsi Holiday Tournament not counting toward the AIA rankings.
Only the Coconino Panthers teams will play games counting toward the AIA rankings this week, with the boys traveling to No. 43 Greenway on Tuesday and hosting No. 31 Washington on Thursday. The girls will do the opposite, facing No. 40 Greenway on their home court Tuesday before playing No. 35 Washington on the road Thursday. All four games will start at 7 p.m.