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With the high school basketball season back in full force, there's tons of great games to anticipate this weekend. Take a deep-dive with us as we preview the top games that we can't wait to watch.
1) San Joaquin Memorial vs. Pinnacle
Jalen Green vs. Nico Mannion
Thursday | 9:00pm EST | Phoenix, AZ.
Game Preview: A Thursday night showdown between Jalen Green and Nico Mannion will headline another exciting weekend of high school hoops. Green (San Joaquin Memorial) and Mannion (Pinnacle High School) are two of the most electric players in the country. Both five-star prospects are offensive juggernauts, with a propensity to produce viral highlights worth watching over and over again.
Although the season is still in its early stages, both players are sprinting out of the gates with performances featuring huge statlines and clutch baskets in big moments.
In a battle versus Louisville commit Samuell Williamson, Green went for 46 points in his season debut for San Joaquin. In the game’s final seconds, Williamson scored a two-point basket to give his squad a one-point advantage. However, Green would not be denied as the 6-foot-5 ‘unicorn’ drove the length of the floor and buried a deep step-back jumper as time expired to lift San Joaquin to a dramatic 81-80 victory.
Mannion also had his moment in the spotlight in a game last week. With the game being streamed to a national audience, the state of Arizona appeared divided between Arizona commit Nico Mannion and Shadow Mountain guard Jaelen House— who’s committed to Arizona State.
The game also carried major implications with it being last year’s 6A champions (Pinnacle) versus the 4A state champions (Shadow Mountain).
With Pinnacle down by a score of 80-79 and only seconds remaining, Mannion received the inbound pass while under heavy duress from House who nearly secured the win for Shadow Mountain with a steal beyond half court. House dove to the floor after poking the ball free, but Mannion recovered his dribble and swiftly drove past half court.
From just beyond the volleyball line, Mannion launched a 25-foot prayer which banked off the glass at the buzzer.
The Shadow Mountain players and fans stood in shock as Mannion pulled off the unthinkable to end a 72-game winning streak for Shadow Mountain against in-state opponents. Mannion finished with 37 points on the game, with 27 of those coming in the second half.
However, despite all of the heroics by Green and Mannion, both players will enter Thursday night’s game seeking bounce-back wins after tough losses. San Joaquin was defeated in a close game against Bishop O’Dowd (Calif.) last week by a score of 76-73. And Pinnacle took a surprising double-digit loss on the road against Mountain Point (Ariz.) by a final of 76-59.
The recent losses, plus the fact that the game will be televised on ESPN2, should provide even more incentive for both players to get-off to good starts.
Other Notable Games:
2) Spire Institute vs. Bella Vista Prep
Friday | 9:30pm EST | Phoenix, AZ
Game Preview: Bella Vista Prep is a deep basketball team with at least 10 players being recruited by Division I programs. This is by far, Spire's toughest test of the season. Spire's trio of LaMelo Ball, Rocket Watts and Isaiah Jackson will have their hands full against Arizona commit Terry Armstrong and 6-foot-6 scorer Addison Patterson. There’s no doubt this matchup will have the attention of fans and media across the country. Will Spire have their hopes of an undefeated season crushed Friday?
3) Montverde Academy vs. Sunrise Christian
Friday | 9:00pm EST | Washington, D.C.
Game Preview: Last year's undefeated GEICO National Champions will get their first true test of the season against Sunrise Christian. Sunrise has the depth and size to win this game. Junior center N'Faly Dante is a bonafide star, but can the Buffaloes counter the deadly trio of Cade Cunningham, Precious Achiuwa and Balsa Koprivica?
4) Memphis East vs. Prolific Prep
Saturday | 4:00pm EST | Memphis, TN
Game Preview: Memphis East might not be as talented as some of its previous teams– and even without former head coach Penny Hardaway– this is still a dangerous squad capable of making noise at the national level. University of Memphis commits James Wiseman and Malcolm Dandridge will be a formidable frontcourt for any team to counter. Prolific Prep will challenge the Mustangs with its athletic and versatile trio of Nimari Burnett, Zach Harvey and Emanuel Miller (Virginia Tech commit). Prolific Prep will look to run in transition early and often as their style of play is to turn the game into a shoot-out.
5) Holy Spirit Prep vs. Sunrise Christian
Saturday | 5:15pm EST | Washington, D.C.
Game Preview: Sunrise Christian will also get a short turnaround after challenging Montverde on Friday. Sunrise Christian is the better team, but Holy Spirit Prep has the best player in Anthony Edwards. Edwards will look to use his size and strength from the guard position to control the game and limit the number of Sunrise Christian possessions.
6) Hillcrest Prep vs. Guyer
Saturday | 7:30pm EST | Phoenix, AZ
Game Preview: Guyer might be a public school in Texas, but the team's talented roster looks a lot like a prep school. Oklahoma commit De'Vion Harmon and Michigan commit Jalen Wilson will lead the way for Guyer against Hillcrest Prep's explosive one-two punch of Kyree Walker and Dalen Terry. Hillcrest possesses a little more depth than Guyer, but it's not by much. This will be a game of runs by both squads.
7) Paul VI Catholic vs. Montverde Academy
Saturday | 7:00pm EST | Washington, D.C.
Game Preview: At the beginning of the season, this matchup would have been a lot more intriguing. Unfortunately for Paul VI Catholic though, the Panthers will be without two of their best players in Jeremy Roach and Virginia Tech commit Anthony Harris. The Eagles will hold the advantage, but Paul VI still possesses a talented squad even without Roach and Harris. Sophomore Trevor Keels and junior Josiah Freeman will need big games for the Panthers to have any chance.
8) Rancho Christian vs. Pinnacle
Saturday | 9:00pm EST | Phoenix, AZ
Game Preview: Pinnacle will have a quick turn around after facing San Joaquin tonight. On Friday night, Pinnacle will need to get-up for another star-studded matchup against Rancho Christian. Pinnacle is a good team with some good players after Mannion, but Rancho Christian will enter this game as the favorites. Evan Mobley and Isaiah Mobley will get the headlines for Rancho, but this is a squad with just as much talent as many of the nation's top prep schools.
9) DeMatha Catholic vs. IMG Academy
Saturday | 8:45pm EST | Washington, D.C.
Game Preview: IMG holds more depth ahead of this game, but DeMatha also possesses the star power to win. DeMatha's big three of Hunter Dickinson, Earl Timberlake and Justin Moore (Villanova commit) will battle against perhaps the best starting five in the country in Noah Farrakhan, Jaden Springer, Josh Green (Arizona commit), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova commit) and Armando Bacot Jr. (North Carolina commit).