Dunk (1) 11-15.JPG

Take another look at the photos attached with this article. The most impressive part about Mitchell Perkins’ dunk is not that he’s a sophomore, it’s that he’s the third tallest on the Falcons basketball team.

The Fountain Hills High School boys basketball team is ready for a strong season. The Falcons opened the season at home against Valley Christian on Tuesday, Nov. 23, after publishing. Head coach Jeff Bonner is entering his fourth season leading the team at his alma mater, and he called the game a barometer test. It would tell him how the Falcons stack up against one of the better teams in 3A.

“They’re going to be a very good team, they always are,” Bonner said. “Coach Greg Haagsma has been there since I was playing here. We’ve had battles when I was a player, we’ve had battles since I’ve been coaching, and I’m sure this one will be another great battle.”

What people probably noticed during the game was the height advantage that the Falcons possess. Bonner said he’ll feature his big men and try to always have two of them on the court, because they are all fast, physical and good.

“They’re all beasts for us, they are huge,” Bonner said. “We had some bigs last year, but they weren’t as physical as these guys. The new ones like contact. And from 10th grade to 12th grade, they all have similar roles. They all do them a little differently.”

According to Bonner, not many other 3A teams are going to have more than two six-footers. The Falcons are blessed with height in multiple grade levels.

Senior Alex Rieck is listed as 6’3” on Hudl.com. Junior Luke Bloedel does not have his height listed but he is as tall, if not taller, than Rieck. Perkins, the sophomore, also doesn’t have a listed height, but he is only an inch or two shorter than Rieck and Bloedel. Bloedel is listed as a center, the rest are listed as power forwards.

Bonner got a good look at the 2021 team during the summer league. Seven seniors graduated before the summer practices and the Falcons only have one returning starter, Xavier Mike. Mike returned from COVID quarantine right before the season opener, and it was not clear at the time if he would play against Valley Christian or not.

“You need a guy that’s been there and that doesn’t fear any situation,” Bonner said. “[Mike’s] that guy for us right now and will be that guy for us the rest of the year. I know that for a fact.”

Jared Reichler was the backup point guard behind Mike last year. According to Bonner, Reichler didn’t play many minutes last season, but he will probably start for the Falcons this season.

Bonner doesn’t expect a small ball lineup to cause his big men problems because they are quick, but the team has practiced those situations and prepared for almost every scenario. If the other team is able to nullify the Falcons’ height advantage, Bonner has confidence in his other players to get the job done.

During a scrimmage game against Winslow last Thursday, junior Diesel Giger was the primary ball handler in place of Mike. Giger shot the ball well and dished passes to open players for easy points. Overall, the Falcons looked good in their first outing. Perkins also had a slam dunk during the scrimmage.

The boys high school basketball team should be an exciting team to follow this winter. Bonner knows what it takes to win. He was a state runner-up as a student, and he won a state championship with Gilbert Christian his first year as an assistant coach.

The Falcons have some tough games to start the season. This weekend, they play Notre Dame Prep at the Valley Christian Thanksgiving Classic tournament, and then the Falcons travel to Payson on Tuesday, Nov. 30. The Falcons host Gilbert Christian at the next home game on Friday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.