There are probably as many high school sports tournaments as there are shopping trips to the mall during the holidays.
Several of the bigger four-day events such as the McClintock Holiday Shootout, VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge, and Holiday Hoopfest are still winding their way to conclusion. But there are many events that are already in the books, including…
Girls Basketball: The Nike Tournament of Champions.
This tournament is the hands-down biggest during the holidays, drawing 84 teams from around the country to gyms at five high schools throughout the city of Chandler, where it has been held since it moved into Arizona back in 2001.
A couple of runner-up finishes were last year’s best efforts, when Marcos de Niza High School and Hamilton High made it to the championship games in their respective brackets, but couldn’t bring home the trophy. Even St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, ranked as the No. 1 team in the country at the time, only managed a third-place finish in the tournament’s top division.
But this year, it was a couple of unbeaten local teams that ascended to the title game of the White Division, so Arizona, which had entered 21 teams, was assured of a championship this year.
Desert Vista High, still undefeated and sitting on a 12-0 record after the tourney win, beat teams from Canada and California before meeting Dobson High School, also undefeated to that point, in the title game. Desert Vista was in control from the start, jumping out to a double-digit advantage in the first quarter and never relinquishing the lead on the way to a 53-42 win. Dobson will carry a 13-1 record going into January.
Desert Vista was led on the offensive end by its senior point guard, Emily Wolph, who had a game-high 16 points, and the 6’4″ junior center, Kristine Anigwe, who contributed 11 points. A pair of seniors topped the Dobson scoring effort, with guard Tori Lloyd leading the way with 15 points, followed by the shooting guard, Miyah Leith, with 11.
Boys Basketball: Horizon Holiday Hoops Invitational
This tournament didn’t feature undefeated teams like the Nike TOC, but the championship game was worth watching as Peoria High School turned away Marcos de Niza High in the final minute to take this year’s tourney title with a 57-53 victory.
Peoria, which came into the tournament with some momentum after winning five of its last six games, used a flurry of three-point baskets to take a solid lead in the first half. The Padres closed a double-digit deficit to just four points just before the fourth quarter began and were down just four with less than half a minute to play before Brody Sharkey drained four free throws to hold off the Marcos comeback effort.
Sharkey, a 5’11” senior guard, finished the game with 24 points and was named the tourney’s MVP. His back court partner, junior Stefan Smith, added 10 points.
The host team, Horizon High School, picked up third place with a 60-56 win over Scottsdale Christian Academy, and Scottsdale’s Arcadia High won the consolation bracket by beating Centennial High from Peoria, 87-59.
Wrestling: Moon Valley Invitational
Dobson High School edged out Corona del Sol High for the top honors at the two-day Moon Valley tourney, scoring 591 points and placing two champions. The Mustangs won seven of their eight medal round matches and Tyler Meraz finished as the 132 lb. champion and Josh Jaramillo was crowned in the 145 weight class.
Corona, which totaled 574 points, also had a pair of champions, as Ethan Tursini won at 160 and Bridger Barker won at 184. Glen Farina (138) and Colton Winstead (152) contributed runner-up performances.
Boulder Creek High School took third with 517 points, Mountain Ridge High had 480 points, and Desert Vista High School rounded out the top five with 471 points.