Perry High School and its sophomore sensation, Markus Howard, were given the prime-time slot at this year’s MLK Classic basketball tournament as organizers tried to minimize the absence of three-time defending state champion, Corona del Sol High School.
Corona, the favorite to win another state title this season and currently ranked No. 22 in the USA Today Super Top 25 national rankings, was the featured attraction at the MLK last year, but opted to travel over the weekend to Springfield, Mass., to play in the Hoophall Classic where they won an overtime thriller against Putnam Vo-Tech high school. And with them went their much-celebrated freshman, Marvin Bagley III, who scored 17 points in the 60-57 win over Putnam.
Some analyst feel that the 15-year-old Bagley, a 6’11” center with guard skills, could start on many college teams right now. His dunking, shot blocking, and all-around dominating game make him a crowd favorite, and would have been a main attraction at the MLK.
But neither the Perry Pumas or their own talented youngster disappointed the MLK fans last night. Playing in the final game of the day, considered the ‘showcase’ event among the five games played at Wells Fargo Arena on the Arizona State campus, Howard lit up the scoreboard with 43 points and Perry overpowered Chandler High for the 94-86 win.
The 5’11” point guard scored 25 points in the first half to fuel Perry’s surge to a 45-36 lead at halftime. He added 11 more in the third quarter to help the Pumas push the lead to 13 points and then hold on as Chandler narrowed the margin to just three points late in the game.
Three of Chandler’s players had big nights, each scoring more than 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Howard’s attack. N’Keal Harry poured in 29 points to lead the Wolves, while Alex Quezada finished with 22 points and Brandon Thompson added 21 more.
John Schlangen had a huge double-double for Perry to establish an inside game for the Pumas. The 6’5″ junior forward had 19 points and 15 rebounds. And junior guard Kyle Van Haren finished with 13 points.
This was a high-scoring game for both teams, much to the delight of the fans on hand. Chandler’s 86 points was its second-highest score of the season, while the 94 Perry put up topped their best single-game performance this year by six points.
In the girls’ featured game earlier in the day, Division I power Dobson High School held off Mesa’s Mountain View High School to post its 15th straight win of the season. Mountain View (13-8) used a strong first half to go into the locker room just three points down at 27-24, but a cold-shooting third quarter enabled Dobson to take control and roll into the fourth quarter with a 41-26 lead.
The Toros closed the gap to eight points as the final period opened, but couldn’t keep up with Dobson the rest of the way.
Mountain View’s senior guard Armani Hawkins led all scorers with 31 points, while Dobson got double-digit scoring from three players: Alexis Todd (19 points), Monay Mariscal (14), and Shamara Troupe (11).