Sunnyslope is the top seed among eight teams competing Friday June 16 and Saturday June 17 at the 7th PrimeTime boys basketball tournament hosted this year by Red Mountain High School.
Joining Sunnyslope are #2 Desert Vista, #3 Brophy Prep, #4 Red Mountain, #5 Basha, #6 Hamilton, #7 Chandler and #8 Liberty. Competition at the seventh annual event begins Friday with exhibition play with two games at 5 p.m. and two games at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. mathcups are Sunnyslope vs. Hamilton and Liberty vs. Brophy Prep. The 6 p.m. matchups are Red Mountain vs. Chandler and Desert Vista vs. Basha.
Bracket play commences Friday with two games at 7 p.m. and two at 8 p.m. The 7 p.m. games are Sunnyslope-Liberty and Brophy-Hamilton. The 8 p.m. games pit Red Mountain-Basha and Chandler-Desert Vista. Consolation bracket semis and winners bracket semis are Saturday at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. Consolation games follow at noon with the final and third-place games at 1 p.m.
A brief look at the teams:
Sunnyslope, the defending 5A champ with a thrilling victory over Apollo in March, returns basically its entire team from last year. Depth is the name of the game and goes well with Sunnyslope 's reputation for team play Fans could see any one of six or seven players produce a big game. Leading the Vikings are forward Chris Orozco, guards Bryson Mehwinney, Kyle Fischer, Abayev Allan, Andrew Greb, Jaren Whitfield, Zach Paloma and Terrence Gilder. Fischer and Paoloma are injured and will not play.
Desert Vista, a 6A semifinalist last year that fell to Basha, also returns a solid corps of players. Leading the group is senior forward Wesley Harris, who averaged 16 points a game last year. Six-foot-8 senior forward Christian Anigwe will be on a college visit and may be available for one of the days. Senior Alijah Gammage, sophomore Osasere Ighodaro are key pieces for the Thunder. Senior guard Duane Miller won't play. He is recovering from surgery.
Brophy reached the 6A quarters last year and suffered some graduation losses. Third-year coach Matt Hooten returns 6-6 senior forward Jaxson Baker fand 6-4 senior guard Ian Burke from a very compeititve squad in the Premier Region with Basha, Hamilton, Chandler and Perry. Varsity players also back from last year looking to move up the ranks are seniors Ben Paul, Xavier Juniel and post Colin Besh. top juniors are Ryan Gilburne and Marques White. Juniel and White also play football.
Red Mountain, with new coach Chris Lemon back in East Mesa after two years piloting Mesquite, had its run at 6A stymied in the play-in game with senior standout Timmy Allen at less than full bore. Red Mountain will be led this season by the potent duo of Allen and junior Andre Harris. Harris wo't be available this weekend tending to a family matter. Another player to watch is junior Tristan Padbury, capable of scoring in bursts.
Basha is the defending 6A state champ. Coach Mike Grothaus is rolling up his sleeves to keep the Bears compeititve and more after massive losses of starters and key bench players. One starter is back -- senior forward Brennan Davis, Davis is dividing his time this summer between basketball and baseball. Senior guard Bryan Baptiste brings quality experience. Seniors Mason Sorensen, Jared Paulus and Jeremiah Cunningham and juniors Jake Moore and Tyler Pugh have shown well this summer.
Hamilton posted a solid turn-around season last year giving plenty of teams all they could handle. The Huskies are led by 6-5 senior Rashad Smith, who averaged 15 points a game and is described by coach Doug Harris as a "freak athlete". The Huskies are a little banged up this summer, but a couple ot other starters from last return in seniors Cole Steed and Zach Anderson.
Chandler also had its moments last year. in a near-.500 season. The Wolves rely heavily on 6-5 senior Tevian Jones, who averaged 19 points and eight rebounds a game as a junior.
Liberty made a surprising run in 5A last season as the #15 seed with some upsets early on before losing in the semis to Slope. Coach Mark Wood lost offensive firepower to graduation but has seven-eight players back with experience. Seniors Quentin Guliford and Connor Ray, juniors Braxten Croteau and Jacob Edahl and among those. Croteau may not play this weekend. An addition to watch is Valley Vista transfer Josh Ursery.