The Kings of AZ Invitational will take place this weekend (August 15-16th) at the Arizona Sports Complex (425 E Pinnacle Peak Phoenix, AZ 85024). The games on Court 1 will be live-streamed for college coaches, national scouts and any family that can not make it to the gym. The link to the livestream is www.smithbrosnetwork.com/theshow … Coaches, PLEASE make sure you have your roster turned in with correct jersey numbers so college coaches and scouts have something to refer to on players they may be interested in.
All games will feature two (2) AIA officials and will be played with (2) 20-minute halves with the clock stopping in the last one-minute of the first half and last 2 minutes of the second half, as long as the game is within a 20-point deficit. Each player will get 6 fouls before ejection. Every free-throw will be shot. Each coach will have (2) timeouts per half. No unused timeouts will roll over to the next half.
We will be able to have a limited amount of fans. I am asking every coach to make the parents/families aware that each player is only allowed two fans and masks must be worn for the entirety of their presence inside the facility. There will also be temp checks for everyone who enters the complex. When teams are done playing for the day, please make sure that families know they will need to exit the facility too as other teams fans are coming in. All precautions are being taken and we need to all make this work together, rather if it’s for health or optics reasons. Thank you all.
I am very excited to be bringing this event to the city. It is going to be a good one.
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP X-FACTORS
The state championships for 4A, 5A and 6A are all set. The 6A match-up will be a familiar one, between two long-time rivals that pack the house every time they meet up. For Desert Vista, this was to be expected. Armed with Marquette-signee Osasere Ighodaro and a high-major sophomore point guard prospect, Dasean Lecque, they are one, if not the most, talented team in the state with Division-I level basketball players sprinkled throughout the roster. However, on the other side, not many in this state would have predicted the Mountain Pointe Pride would be one of the final two teams left at the end.
They have a trio of guards that have led them to this point in 5’11” senior TJ Tiger, 5’11” junior Jason Kimbrough and 5’9” freshman Mark Brown. First-year Head Coach Kaimar Price and the Pride will need heavy contributions out of all three to have a chance to pull this one out. They will need an equal contribution from 6’7” junior forward Zeroue Williams with the length and size Desert Vista possesses in the paint. He will also be heavily called on to try to slow down Ighodaro. However, the X-Factor in the Mountain Pointe equation could very well be 6’2” sharp-shooting senior guard Miles Sulka. If he can knock down some big shots from the outside and limit Desert Vista’s offensive possessions and transition opportunities, it will give them a chance to pull off this upset. Sulka is Mountain Pointe’s purest shooter and the more the Pride can limit Ighodaro’s presence in the paint, where baskets will be hard to come by.
For Desert Vista, I have their 6’0” junior guard Marcus Wady as their X-Factor. Wady is the wild card. When he is on the floor and playing well this team goes from very good to close to unstoppable in the state of Arizona. On the defensive end he moves around like a madman and can really cause some havoc on that end that gets the Thunder out in transition, where they are at their best.
In 5A we will see a match-up that just about everyone who knows Arizona basketball predicted as the top-seeded Millennium Tigers square up with the 2nd-seeded Ironwood Eagles. Both teams have absolutely steam-rolled thru the season. Millennium has played one of the tougher schedules amongst anyone on the West Coast and Ironwood dominated the most competitive region in the state, regardless of conference. This might be the most intriguing and even-played match-up of any championship game we have on the table.
Ironwood comes in armed with just about everything a high school team could want. While they don’t possess a true big man, they possess size that plays much bigger than what they are and with motors. They will need 6’5” senior forward David Teibo to be big in this one. As many very good teams they have played, they have yet to face a player like Millennium’s 6’9” junior forward DaRon Holmes, who has been absolutely dominant this season and had his way with whoever has attempted to guard him. Teibo has the body, strength and athleticism to cause some problems for Holmes, but that is easier said than done. If Teibo can be find a way to make it difficult for Holmes it could throw the Tigers off their game, as they run their offense heavily through Holmes and are at their best when they do.
The guard play in this game is going to be one for the ages. Ironwood has a multiude of weapons at the position led by senior duo Trent Hudgens and Dominic Gonzalez, while Millennium comes into this with possibly the best junior point guard in the state in Justus Jackson. Jackson will have to be dominant in this one, no question and the other guards for the Tigers will have to be able to balance out the barrage of Ironwood’s backcourt.
Millennium’s 6’4” senior guard/wing Justice Marmara could be a huge X-Factor in this contest. He is the one guard outside of Jackson that possesses the size and athleticism to contend with the multitiude of guards that Ironwood possesses. At any time, one of these Eagles guards could heat up and drop 25 on you in a heart beat. Whoever seems like the hot hand for the Eagles will probably be the guy that Marmara draws. On the offensive side, if he can get some opportunities with the ball down in the paint, he could be a mismatch nightmare in the trenches for Ironwood with his physicality and ability to put the ball in the bucket down low in the post.
It’s time to chase some rings, fellas! Let’s get it! SHOWtime!
PEORIA PANTHERS ARE ON A MISSION!
The scene was set on Tuesday night between the Saint Mary’s Knights, one of the richest in tradition basketball programs in the state, and the Peoria Panthers, the school on the west side that is not always mentioned amongst the state’s “elite”. There was word spread wide that the gym would reach capacity at least an hour before game time with tickets being sold out online and that the line for ticket sales outside would be stretching around the parking lot. There was no exaggeration in those statements.
Both programs student sections went back and forth with 75 mins left til tip-off, verbally jabbing each other with one-liners. It was one of the better high school basketball pre-game entertainment shows I have ever seen.
Then the tip-off happen and Peoria came out swinging… and never stopped! Peoria went into the half leading by 18 after 6’5” junior wing Kevin Kogbara hit a right-handed James Harden-esque step-back 3-pointer to end the half. Kogbara was absolutely amazing in the first half but had to sit on the bench with 2 early fouls. While he was off the floor, senior guard duo 6’0” Isaac Monroe and 5’9” Corey Perry lit it up. 6’0” freshman sharp-shooting guard Andrew Camacho made his presence felt early creating turnovers, taking a charge and knocking down some outside shots. 5’10” senior guard DeAndre Petty was incredible and was all over the floor.
However, even though Peoria was so dominant in the first half, it felt as if everybody in the gym could sense a big St. Mary’s run that would get them back in it. After all, they are one of the deepest teams in the state in terms of talent and guys that can flat out get it done. They got the lead cut down to 8 and that was about as close as they would ever get. Kogbara had some stretches where he looked like a pure dominant force and their collection of guards were hitting everything they tossed up. They owned the boards for the most part and created havoc on the defensive end. And just like that, Peoria stunned everyone with a 85-59 win behind one of the better balanced scoring attacks with all five starters pouring in 15-19 points. As a team, they shot 14-for-22 from the 3-point line with Corey Perry going 5/5 from deep. Now the Panthers find themselves locked into a match-up with the 2nd-seeded Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, AZ), led by Harvard-signee Evan Nelson, who has led the Lancers to now three consecutive 4A state title games.
For those who don’t get out to the West Valley much or may be just don’t know much about the school that sits off of Grand Avenue and Peoria Ave, this team has been building up to this situation and moment for quite some time. It’s a team that see’s most of them stick together all year-round from the high school season, to spring and summer ball to fall pre-season ball. Though they play in a system that allows them to boogie and get up and down the floor in a hurry, it is ORGANIZED chaos. They have a chemistry and it always seems as if they are completely bought in to the vision of Peoria Panther basketball.
But this road has not been paved smooth…
For undisclosed reasons, Peoria’s long-time Head Coach Will Roberts has not been on the bench for the majority of the season. However, while most teams might fold up their chairs and allow the table to fall apart, these kids rallied behind their coaching staff, led by interim Head Coach Patrick Battillo, and held that table up.
Most of these kids are no stranger to a little adversity. It’s a school placed in an area where life may not always be easy but you rally and you push thru it to get what it is you want out of life at the present time and for the future. So it’s no surprise to the people that sit in that locker room before and after every game that this could be done.
This teams is filled with upper class men, including three senior starters in Monroe, Petty and Perry. Possibly the teams top current prospect is Kogbara. A kid with size that can be such a match-up nightmare against any team. However, it takes him to be at his best and limiting mistakes and turnover for this team to truly reach it’s peak. The other member of the starting five is the freshman, Andrew Camacho, who is right up there as far as freshman who made the biggest impact at the varsity level in their rookie season. The kid has knocked down big shot after big shot and has to be toward the top of the list in charges taken this year. What he may lack in athleticism, he makes up for in pure basketball genius for such a young mind. It helps that the kid has a strap that most military snipers would be jealous of. Where Kogbara is the engine to the car, Monroe is the steering wheel. They go where he takes them.
As much as the starting five has done, you will never reach your true pinnacle as a team without the devotion to the team’s goals from your bench. And they get that in abundance. Guys like junior guard Tre Bell and Shemar Moore and the rest of the bench that dedicates themselves to making this team battle ready.
So here we are… the Peoria Panthers are heading to the State Championship game at the Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.