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Hogan Armstrong
ASU Student Journalist

Marcos de Niza wins Coyote Classic opener

November 25, 2019 by Hogan Armstrong, Arizona State University

Marcos De Niza defeated Metro Tech 67-45 in its first game at the Phoenix Union High School District Coyote Classic. The win marked the beginning of the Padres season, giving them a confidence boost before they face No.1 Cesar Chavez on Tuesday.

Prior to the tournament, head coach David Stark wanted to prepare his players for the upcoming powerhouse that is the Cesar Chavez Champions. The Champions are No.1 in the 6A division, finishing 16-2 last year and seventh in total rankings.

During practice the previous week, Stark’s main focus was defensive awareness and picking up the pace on offense. 

“We use the term ‘Padres scrap’ because of our toughness on the defensive end," Stark said.

That scrappiness seemed to work against the Padres in the first quarter. Metro Tech ran a full-court press to disrupt the Padres' size on offense, leading to multiple turnovers on Marcos de Niza’s own half and 19 overall.

The Padres struggled against the undersized Knights when it came to turnovers and getting the ball up the court, as Metro Tech continued to use Marcos de Niza’s methods against them throughout the whole game.

After some quick words with Stark at the end of the second quarter, "Padres scrap" was in full effect for the latter half of the game. Once they were able to trap the Knights on their own half, the towering Padres picked up 14 steals as a team at the end of the game and secured the glass with 27 rebounds.

The Padres also focused most of their points on the inside, scoring only four 3-pointers on the night and letting their seniors work the paint.

Twins Russ and Tommy Lingruen put on a show for the Padres on the offensive and defensive level, tacking on 42 points and 5 blocks as a pair.

“I was a bit rusty and shaky,” said Russ. “I need to have less turnovers and play with more confidence.”

Russ ended the game with 17 points, two assists and five rebounds.

While the idea of "Padres’ scrap" eventually led to a Marcos de Niza win, Stark was not completely satisfied with the way his team performed.

“It wasn’t clean at all,” Stark said. “Break wasn’t there, our defense wasn’t on. Overall, not happy with a lot of things.”

Stark stressed the importance of tempo and pace of play during practice and after the game, saying that if his team could not control the ball up the court and into the next play, then they would struggle to get a shot off.

“I was surprised that we weren’t confident tonight and that we didn’t play with the passion that we usually do,” said Stark. “We play the No. 1 6A team in the state, so we just have to come out with a confident attitude that we can compete with them.”