When the high school basketball season rolls around in November, there are just a few weeks for teams to begin preparing for the first game on the schedule. So summer is a critical time of year because that’s when programs begin laying the groundwork for next season.
And tournaments provide a great opportunity to get real-game practice, despite the fact that teams often don’t have a full roster due to family and other commitments during the summer that keep players busy elsewhere.
That was the case last week for Corona del Sol High School and Scottsdale Christian Academy, who were entered in the annual Prime Time Tournament for boys at Sunnyslope High. Corona, which won four consecutive D-I state titles from 2011-2014, went 2-2 through the tourney and SCA, which won the D-III state title last year, lost all four of its games.
SCA was playing without forward Ethan Spry, one of two top scorers last season, and the Aztecs didn’t have Alex Barcello in the line-up. The senior-to-be point guard was the 2015 Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year and scored 29 points in Corona’s loss in the state tournament.
Apollo High School, which went 25-4 last season in D-I, romped through the eight-team Prime Time tourney by winning all four games and securing the title for the event’s sixth year. They beat Chandler High in the championship game, 75-71, by jumping out to a 15-point lead after the first half and then held on for the win. It was the second time Apollo beat the Wolves in the tourney as Chandler finished 2-2.
Apollo’s senior guard, Holland Woods, scored 29 points in the title game and was named the tournament MVP. His back-court partner, senior Dre Marin, added 17 points, and a third guard, Jeff Perez, added 11 points. Perez will be back for his senior season.
Chandler had five players in double figures, led by Tevian Jones, who scored 19 points.
On the girls’ side, the Lady X Basketball Tournament at Red Mountain High School in Mesa gave another eight teams a chance to get involved in some challenging competition among some of the state’s top programs.
Four of the teams in the field competed in D-I last season, which will become the new 6A division next year. All of the four advanced to at least the quarter-finals of the state tournament, with Hamilton High winning the state championship and Valley Vista High advancing to the semifinals.
Seton Catholic, a Division II team last season that has been placed in 4A, won the 2015 D-II state title.
But it was Mesquite High School, which will be a 5A team, that claimed the title in the tournament’s third year of operation, beating Valley Vista in an exciting championship game that went down to a 50-48 finale.
The Wildcats rolled through the event, winning all four games, while Valley Vista’s only loss was in the title game.
Mesquite’s junior guard Shaylee Gonzales was the game-high scorer with 18 points, while Terrysha Banner led Valley Vista with 14.