At 5-foot-9, Max Guercy
, might be a tad undersized when he steps out on the basketball court. The senior point guard from Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.)
, however, makes up for his so-called lack of height with an unwavering desire to succeed and prove his skeptics wrong.
It appears as if the many naysayers of Guercy could be on the verge of eating some proverbial crow, in fact, considering he has guided the Warriors into Saturday afternoon's Division III title game of the CIF State Championships.
They face Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco)
and the opening tip for the showdown at Power Balance Pavillion in Sacramento is scheduled for 2:45. p.m.
Guercy, mind you, is not the only somewhat underrated individual to be making an appearance at this weekend's festivities in the northern part of the state.
Several of his peers have flown underneath the radar for a while, but Guercy - perhaps because of his size - has had the largest climb.
"Some people look at Max and think that he doesn't have the prototypical size. Honestly, what is the prototypical size? I don't think there's a standard for basketball players, at any one position,'' Alemany coach Tray Meeks said. "When he hears the negativity, that motivates him. Give Max credit, he's stayed the course. We wouldn't be in this position without him doing his thing for us.''
Like Guercy himself, the Warriors (32-4 overall record) have climbed themselves, all the way to a No. 8 state and No. 54 national ranking, according to MaxPreps.com. They'll need a big game from Guercy against the Irish (28-5), ranked No. 6 in the state and 51 nationally.
Guercy averaged 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and nearly three steals per game this season and those numbers caught the attention of colleges, something that could not be said at the start of the season. He now has scholarship offers from Hartford, Hawaii and Northeastern.
"It was frustrating in the beginning of the season because I was hearing all kinds of things, people thought I was too small or something,'' Guercy said. "That type of stuff made me work harder and want to show everyone out there what I'm made of. I think point guards, and high school players in general, should be judged on their wins and losses. My record speaks for itself.''
He had help along the way, during the regular season and the playoffs.Marqueze Coleman
was typically the first teammate Guercy looked for. The senior and Nevada commit averaged a team-high 21.5 points per game. Sophomore Bear Henderson
also scored in double digits and averaged 12.7 a night. Guercy also had a reliable option in Jerico Richardson
, a UCLA-bound football player who has contributed 9.3 points per game.
"Max is our leader, he did a good job of getting us to this point of the season, a win away from a state title,'' Coleman said. "I don't care what people say about him, or what was talked about in the past, he is a winner. Some players have it, others don't. Max has it. He's a winner.''Here are 10 other winners in the state finals a notch below the radar: Dakarai Allen
(Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.)
- The 6-6 junior guard is a long and athletic wing. He can defend any
perimeter player and is a good rebounder. He's especially effective in
transition, and good driver to the hoop. He's getting some serious
consideration from high Division I colleges. The Huskies tackle the
nation's No. 6 team Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in an 8 p.m. Division I final
Saturday. Zach Beery (La Costa Canyon-Carlsbad)
- The 6-4 senior shooting guard is somewhat overshadowed by Matt Shrigley, also an upperclassman who is heading to San Diego State. Nevertheless, Beery has kept Division II postseason opponents honest with a mufti-faceted skill set. He's averaging more than 12 points per game, and when teams focus on Shrigley, Beery typically delivers an eye-opening effort. La Costa Canyon plays Archbishop Mitty in Friday's 8 p.m. Division II title game.
- The 6-foot senior combo guard is a a good athlete, who runs well, has
good handles and is a superb playmaker in transition. He's getting
mid-major interest and is a big reason Price is in the Division IV title
game with Salesian-Richmond. The title game is scheduled 1:30 p.m.
Friday. Mario Dunn (Salesian-Richmond)
- Though Jabari Bird gets most of the attention - and rightfully so -
Dunn probably does more for his team. The 6-foot point guard stepped
into that role with three-year starter Dominic Artist left for Findlay
Prep. There's been little to no drop-off. A high-flier and fearless
competitor, Dunn plays well above the rim, is quick on quick and isn't
afraid to take big 3-point shots as he did in a big win over Division I
NorCal champion Sheldon.Bear Henderson
(Alemany) - The 6-4 small forward is strong, a good rebounder and
handles the ball surprisingly well. He can also head to the block and
score and his perimeter shot is improving. A perfect third threat
Alemany needs to be successful. Taylor Johns
(Sacred Heart Cathedral) - The 6-5 senior forward is a big-time athlete who can really run and jump. He plays much taller than his size as he showed against a much-taller Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland squad last week. He scored 15 points and pulled 10 rebounds, including a follow slam over two taller defenders that was pretty spectacular. Though his offensive game is raw, he's starting to get some Division I looks. Marquis Salmon
(Village Christian-Sun Valley)
- The 6-7 senior goes about his business rather quietly if that's
possible when you average 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists and
steals per game. Most are worried about stopping Marsalis Johnson
and Bryan Alberts
that Salmon has gone unnoticed in Division V play. For the most part,
that is. We can appreciate his well-rounded game. Village Christian
plays St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda in Saturday's 11:15 a.m. Division V
(Mater Dei-Santa Ana)
- Katin Reinhardt
, Xavier Johnson
and Stanley Johnson
receive the Division I headlines. Rightfully so, considering each
individual is a high-profile prospect. There's no denying the fact that
Stalzer is the glue guy. His numbers aren't huge - 5.8 points, 2.7
rebounds and 2.3 assists per game - but his intangibles and leadership
skills are. So much so Pac-12 Tournament Colorado has offered a
scholarship which Stalzer accepted. Mater Dei plays Sheldon in an 8 p.m.
Division I final Saturday. Kyi Thomas
(Sheldon) - The high-flying 6-4 senior is headed to Sacramento State as an athletic receiver, but many believe he's a Division I basketball player as well. Saturday's game against Mater Dei could be his last hoop hurrah, and he'll need to come up big. He's more than capable. Temidayo Yussef (St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda)
- The 6-6 power forward was the last player on St. Joseph's bench last season, but he grew three inches in the offseason. His game grew exponentially. He's the team's leading scorer at about 16 points per game. He's also a quality rebounder and defender. His coach - Don Lippi with 701 wins - says he's a definite Division I college prospect. He'll have his hands full with the length and athleticism of Village Christian. Senior writer Mitch Stephens and contributor Gerry Freitas at hoopreview.net contributed to this report. Follow Sean Ceglinsky on Twitter @seanceglinsky.