PrimeTime hoops tourney to feature top AZ prep teams

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                </div>Pinnacle High School will make a run at repeating as the champion of the Summer PrimeTime Tournament, but the Pioneers may have to step aside this year because Corona del […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Pinnacle High School will make a run at repeating as the champion of the Summer PrimeTime Tournament, but the Pioneers may have to step aside this year because Corona del Sol High School appears to be the team to beat.

The tournament, which begins tomorrow and runs into Saturday afternoon at Highland High School in Gilbert, is the event that showcases the best teams in the state each summer.  There are eight schools entered this year and five of those made it to the quarterfinals or better.  Two of them, Pinnacle and Corona, met in the championship game.

Last year, Pinnacle beat Mesa High in the PrimeTime championship game, 48-43, and went on to a run through most of the regular season as the top-rated team in Division I, finishing up with 13 straight wins.

They added three more victories to get to the state title game, but couldn’t hold off Corona, which overcame a seven-point deficit in the final four minutes to secure a 63-59 victory and its second consecutive state crown.

Mesa lost to Desert Mountain High School in the quarterfinals and Desert Mountain was beaten by Corona in the next round.  Both Mesa and Desert Mountain are in the field of eight this weekend.

The other entrants include Gilbert High, which lost to Pinnacle in the state quarterfinals; Mesa’s Mountain View High School; and Highland High.  Both Mountain View and Highland were knocked out in the first round of the state tournament.

Corona should be considered the favorite to win this year’s PrimeTime event.  They were given the No. 1 seed because they are not only talented, but have a deep bench.  The Aztecs return Casey Benson from last year’s championship team that went 29-4 on the year.  The senior point guard was a major factor in their title win, putting up 12 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.

In addition to Benson, the roster will include Dane Kuiper, a junior forward who is one of the more heavily recruited players in the state; Connor MacDougall, a power forward who transferred from Westwind Prep and is awaiting word from the AIA regarding his eligibility to play this season; and Cassius Peat, a junior forward who was one of three players in double figures in last year’s title game.

Pinnacle, which is seeded second, is led again this year by its senior forward, Dorian Pickens, who poured in 24 points in the championship loss to Corona.  He averaged 17.7 points over 31 games last season and was 55 percent from the field.

Mesa is the No. 3 seed this weekend, but only have one of the teams top leading scorers returning this year and have lost their starting point guard from a team that lost just six games.  That leaves senior guard Christian Harris, who averaged 10 points last season, and senior forward Isaac Allen, who contributed 8.4 per game.

Desert Mountain, the No. 4 seed, could also give Corona a run for its money.  The Wolves return most of their scoring and rebounding from last year, when they went 25-6 and made it to the state semi-finals.  The Scottsdale school will have a new coach this coming season, but the replacement for Todd Fazio is Kurt Keener, who was one of the winningest high school coaches in Michigan before moving to the Valley this year.

The Wolves also have a senior point guard in Rolando Rhymes, who averaged 15 points while orchestrating the offense, and he will have a trio of senior teammates to rely on:  forward Mark Andrews and guards Will Goff and Remy Smith.  Together, the threesome provided 21 points a game.

This is third year the PrimeTime tournament has been held and it’s turning into a great way to get a preview of which teams will be leading the way in Division I next season.

And a good opportunity to watch some great high-school basketball to break the boredom of summer.