We had 16 Varsity teams participate last weekend with some of the top teams from Southern Arizona. Cienega was the strongest team in the tourney and beat our Foothills team in the finals. Like most summer tourney finals, it wasn't the best showing by either team as players were a bit tired by the end of Sunday. The game was back and forth till Cienega made a run with about 15 minutes to play and kept a comfortable 8-12 lead till the end. They have three good athletic guards and an undersized but strong post player.
Cienega was challenged by Cholla in pool play and won by four, but Cholla lost their PG towards the end of the first half. He is one of the top players in the area and as important to his team as any other high school player in the state. We beat Cholla by four in the semi-finals as well, but they definitely will be a tough team to contend with next year.
Rincon looks very good; they are the only team in SoAZ with size and are still somewhat young. I believe Coach Utter will have them competing at a high level by next season and they will be extremely tough in the future.
Sahuaro was much improved from the previous weekend. They lost early to Rincon in a close game and gave us fits in our first round. We had the ball bounce our way towards the end of the game and beat them by four. Again, another team rebuilding from a senior heavy team from last year, with Nate Renfro leading the way they can beat anyone.
Salpointe participated in pool play but were not able to play in the bracket on Sunday. They beat us by four in our pool and like us and Sahuaro, they are rebuilding from last year. They have a lot of solid young talent and are a tough defensive team.
Ironwood Ridge played tough through the weekend and lost to Cholla in bracket play. Another young team with some size and seems to be figuring out things without Mitch Lightfoot.
Catalina Foothills, we are similar to many teams in Southern Arizona, in which we lost nearly 80% of our scoring from last year and only return one player with varsity heavy minutes. Dakota Kordseimon has played exceptional all summer and our team has a big learning curve to reach the level of some of the top teams in SoAZ this year. We showed we can compete with anyone, but have a long way to go to learn our system and build trust with each other.
Some of the smaller schools looked good. Palo Verde as always played everyone tough and won the consolation bracket. Tanque Verde also competed and when Santa Rita had their full squad nearly beat Salpointe.
The JV division was won by Cienega in a highly competitive match against Salpointe in the finals and Buena in the semis. In the frosh division, Sahuaro was very dominant but had a close first round game against Buena. Marana also has some strong freshman talent and a great new coaching staff.
Overall, lots of great young talent in the area and some exceptional seniors. I am not sure if SoAZ will be as strong as last year as many teams have a whole new look, but there is a ton of talent throughout the area. Sunnyside, Tucson and Buena were not in attendance (varsity), but all of the teams that most of us will be chasing were there.
I was really impressed with the professionalism of all the players and coaches; we had zero conflicts the entire tournament! Hopefully in the future we can convince some Phoenix schools to come participate.
Varsity Boys Basketball Coach
Catalina Foothills High School