The Christmas holidays are for family gatherings, gift exchanges… and high school tournaments.
Two of the biggest, the VisitMesa. com and McClintock Holiday Shootout basketball tournaments get underway today. But many events in various sports have already taken place in the week before Christmas.
Most are hosted by a high school hoping to draw a good field of teams, as well as enough spectators, to make it a fund-raiser for the athletic departments. Adding a corporate sponsor also helps.
But the secret to hosting is inviting the right teams. You want the field to be competitive, but not so good that you can’t win your own event.
Scottsdale’s Horizon High and Mesa High apparently haven’t figured out that last part yet.
Horizon found a sponsor for its basketball tourney, so it’s now the MidFirst Bank Horizon Invitational. And the event had great competition.
In fact, Deer Valley HS was good enough to end the 32-game winning streak of Scottsdale Christian HS in the opening game – but not good enough to get to the finals. Horizon drew Marcos de Niza from Tempe in that game, along with its 6’8″ scoring machine, T.J. Burke.
Burke hit 32 points and teammate, Cedric Warren, added 27 more to lead the Padres to the championship, 81-73. Burke had 30 points and 14 boards in the 85-75 semi-finals win over Deer Valley, while Horizon earned the title game by beating Boulder Creek HS from Anthem, 81-75.
Collin Woods did all he could to save the trophy for Horizon, scoring the game-high 36 points.
Just days later… the Mesa High Jackrabbit Invitational wrapped up, and the tournament host was left empty-handed… again.
Central HS in Phoenix kept alive its unblemished 9-0 record by winning this year’s event with a 3-1 victory over Mesa in the title game, and making it two years in a row that the Jackrabbits have made it to the championship game, but couldn’t close the deal.
Zoo Htoo, Agustin Guerrero, and Alberto Garcia scored for Central to give the Bobcats a 3-0 lead at the intermission that would hold until Mesa’s Christian Gonzales put the host team on the board with just two minutes left to play in the game.
This week offers a hoops fan’s feast, with the McClintock Holiday Shootout that features games with some of the state’s best teams every day through Thursday, when the title game is played at 7 p.m. Some of the featured teams include Brophy Prep in Phoenix, Desert Mountain HS from Scottsdale, Marcos de Niza HS, and Pinnacle HS in Phoenix.
But the VisitMesa.com gala brings in out-of-state teams from California, Utah, and Ohio. And gives spectators a chance to see the phenom in Class 2A – Westwind Prep Academy in Phoenix.
Westwind is undefeated over the first 11 games of the season and has not been seriously challenged in any game so far. The charter school routinely scores over 100 points a game and the average margin of victory is almost 60 points.
The Warriors’ back court averages over 40 points a game, split pretty evenly between senior point guard, Stephen Topercer, and the 6’6″ junior, Demarquise Johnson.
This is the first year that Westwind has competed in the event and will see one of its biggest local challenges against a team with similar back court strength in Amphitheater HS in Tucson. The Panthers are led by Lester Medford, averaging 19 points a game, and Tim Derksen, who adds 16 per outing.