#1 Dobson HS girls headline MLK Classic hoops tourney

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                </div>  It’s time again for the MLK Basketball Classic.  This will be the 12th year the annual basketball tournament will be held in the Valley, with the ‘showcase’ games taking […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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It’s time again for the MLK Basketball Classic.  This will be the 12th year the annual basketball tournament will be held in the Valley, with the ‘showcase’ games taking place on the big stage at Wells Fargo Arena on the Arizona State University campus.

Once again, the field of 10 boys’ and girls’ teams that will play all day long on Monday at Wells Fargo features many of the top teams in the state, including the No. 1 girls team in Division I, Dobson High School.  The Mustangs are 19-1 and play one more game, against Mesa High tonight, before beginning preparations for the tournament.

Dobson’s only loss this season was to Hamilton High School in a game decided by one point.  And Hamilton (13-6) is also playing in the MLK this year, but not against Dobson.  The Huskies will take on Mountain Pointe High School (9-9) in the opening game at noon, while Dobson plays Mesa’s Mountain View High (11-7) in the final girls’ game at 1:30.

Then the boys will take the court for the first of their three games, with St. Mary’s High (9-7) tipping off against Cesar Chavez High School (15-2).  This will be a chance for the two teams to scout out their opponents before meeting in a regular-season game next week.  Pinnacle (13-5) plays the 4:30 game against Mesa (13-2), followed by the ‘showcase’ game between Perry High (15-3) and Chandler High (11-6).

Unfortunately, one of the top Division I boys’s teams that is generally regarded as this year’s favorite to win the D-I state title will not be on the floor this year.  Corona del Sol High School is taking some time off after playing back-to-back games against Shadow Mountain High School and Gilbert High earlier this week.  The Aztecs (16-1) will prepare instead for an out-of-state game with Putnam Vo-Tech in Massachusetts tomorrow.  Their only loss of the season was also to an out-of-state team when Sierra Canyon High School, one of California’s top prep teams, beat them in the Hoophall West tournament in the first game of the new year.

Corona won the boys’ featured event last year by beating Shadow Mountain in a runaway 79-52 victory.  The two teams just played Tuesday, with Corona winning 80-74, and might have made a good showcase game for the MLK.  However, Shadow Mountain is now playing without its best player after junior guard Mike Bibby was removed from the equation with a knee injury that will sideline him for the remainder of the season.

The featured attraction on the girls’ side at last year’s MLK is also not in the field this year.  Seton Catholic, which was undefeated when the MLK rolled around last year, also coasted to a surprisingly easy 46-37 win over Division II defending champion, Saguaro High.

Hopefully, the games on Monday will be more competitive.  On the girls’ side, Mountain View will have its hands full with Dobson, which has been averaging 50 points a game since the new year started – and beating their opponents by an average 20 points.

The day’s finale between the Chandler and Perry boys’ teams should be a good one, despite the fact that both teams have hit a few speed bumps lately.  Perry has lost two of its last six games, including a 20-point loss earlier this week to Desert Vista.  But Desert Vista has lost just one game this season and will be a major contender for the state title.

Chandler has lost four of its last six games and will be looking for some redemption against Perry.  And fans will get a glimpse into the future of the Arizona State program.  The Wolves’ sophomore point guard, Markus Howard, committed to play for the Sun Devils in August after a much-publicized recruiting push by ASU.