Corona del Sol tops list of local teams at Hoophall West

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                </div>The inaugural Hoophall West high school basketball tournament that was announced a couple of months ago has now added a list of eight Arizona schools to a field that includes some […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The inaugural Hoophall West high school basketball tournament that was announced a couple of months ago has now added a list of eight Arizona schools to a field that includes some of the top national prep programs.

Grand Canyon University will be the site for the Dec. 13-14 tournament, which is an expansion of the Spalding Hoophall Classic that runs each year at Springfield College in Massachusetts and is considered by many to be the premier high school basketball invitational in the country.

It would have been a great opportunity for Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School to test its program against some of the better teams in the nation, but it appears the Aztecs won’t get a chance to take on that challenge.  As the format is laid out, the five nationally-prominent schools will play in separate match-ups, while the local teams will play in the Arizona Bracket.

Corona will be joined in the Arizona Bracket by Westview High School, Chaparral High School, Gilbert High School, Mesquite High School, Millennium High School, Shadow Mountain High School, and Desert Mountain High School.

The prominent visitors include Bishop Gorman High School from Nevada, Oak Hill Academy from Virginia, Mater Dei High School and Orange Lutheran from California, and Yates High School from Texas.

Corona would likely match up well with these teams.  The Aztecs have won two consecutive state championships and will be favored again this year to win it all.  They have been rolling through the summer, generally dominating every tournament they enter.

Casey Benson, a senior who is perhaps the best point guard in the state, will lead a team that is not only very talented, but deep as well.  A solid core of upperclassmen includes 6’6″ Dane Kuiper and 6’4″ Cassius Peat in the front court, and Jarrett Givens, a 6’2″ guard.  Givens is a senior and Peat and Kuiper, who transferred in this year from Alaska, are juniors.

If Connor MacDougall is ruled eligible to play this season, the team’s stock rises another level.  MacDougall, a 6’9″ post who has been playing in the summer program, transferred in after playing last season on the Westwind Prep Academy‘s national team and is awaiting word from the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) to determine whether he will be able to avoid sitting out a year since his family moved into the school’s boundaries, which is in accordance with the AIA transfer rules.

With MacDougall, who has committed to play at Arizona State next year, there are those that feel this team could turn out to be one of the best all-time in high school basketball in Arizona.

The new Hoophall tournament that will debut in Phoenix, then, will be a good occasion to showcase the squad that will be hoping to make it three state titles in a row.

It is an expansion of the original tournament that started 13 years ago as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame High School Invitational, held at Western New England University.  In 2004, the event moved to Springfield College and was re-named the Magic32Hoophall Classic two years later.

Spalding took over the sponsorship  in 2007 and it has continued to grow into arguably the premier high school invitational in the country.  Last year, the Classic drew more than 3,000 people on the event’s final day.  That tourney included 26 games and featured 16 teams that were nationally-ranked at some time during the season, including national champions from two different rating services.

The expansion into the West will also give Grand Canyon University an opportunity to get some national exposure and showcase its new (2010) 5,000-seat arena – and bring some of the nation’s top recruits right to the doorstep of GCU’s new head coach, Dan Majerle.  Students from the school’s Colangelo School of Sports Business will take on the responsibility of setting up the tournament, from early planning of the event to actual on-site management.

For those willing to take a break from Christmas shopping, this should be an opportunity to watch some of the best basketball in the country at the high school level and enjoy an entertaining couple of hours in a first-class facility.

It will also offer an early look at some of the hottest college recruits coming out in 2014.