Lot happening on and off the field in Mesa district

June 13, 2011 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Mesa high schools have been busy as spring winds down and summer looms,  losing and gaining baseball and softball coaches, hosting a late-June basketball tournament and setting up a regular-season basketball doubleheader invlolving a trio of state champions.

Red Mountain, which lost baseball coach Jason Grantham three weeks ago to administration at Mesquite High in Gilbert , has hired Grantham's assistant and former Westwood head coach, Ross Pagel, to guide the Mountain Lions.

Mesa High, searching to replace baseball coach Joe Bergen  who resigned last month, is interviewing for its open spot. Mesa Mountain View and Skyline are looking for softball coaches. Jim Faul resigned at Skyline last month and Bill Roberts is out at Mountain View. Roberts guided Mountain View to its best softball finish ever this season, a spot in the 5A-I final four.

Too hot to watch stuff outside as temperatures crack 100 degrees consistently? Pencil in Friday June 24 and Saturday June 25 for boys basketball games with some of the top teams for 2011-2012 competing in the first annual Mesa Summer Primetime tournament at Red Mountain High School.

Mesa Mountain View, Desert Vista, Pinnacle, Desert Mountain, Corona del Sol, Raymond Kellis, Westwind Prep and Amphitheater are this year's participants. Games consist of two, 20-minute halves with running clock except for the final minute of each half. Some other rule variations are in place to speed up play, specifically with free-throw shooting and points awarded for successful free throws. The idea of the tournament is to view some of the top teams and their players, most of whom will be in attendance at a time when camps and showcases abound.

First-round games Friday June 24 are: 5 p.m. -- #8 Desert Mountain vs. #1 Westwind Prep and #5 Amphitheater vs. #4 Pinnacle;  6 p.m. -- #6 Mountain View vs. #3 Desert Vista and #7 Raymond Kellis vs. #2 Corona del Sol. The 5 p.m. winners and losers play at 7 p.m. and the 6 p.m. winners and losers play at 8 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday June 25 at 11 a.m. Consolation games will be played on Satrday at 10 a.m., noon and 1 p.m..

Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for students age 13-17. Kids 12-and-under are free. Admission price is for each day.

The field is set for the 5th annual VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge, set for Dec. 27-30 at Mesa Mountain View High. Twelve Arizona schools, as usual, are entered with Amphitheater, Corona del Sol, Desert Vista, Mountain Pointe, Mountain View, Horizon, Westwind Prep, Red Mountain, Dobson, Chaparral, Pinnacle and Arcadia. The four out-of-state entries are American Fork High, American Fork, Utah; South Sioux City High, South Sioux City, Neb.; Gahr High, Cerritos, Calif., and McClymonds High, Oakland, Calif.

Ten of the 12 Arizona teams were quarterfinalists or better in their classification last season. Three were state champions -- Mountain View (5A-I); Amphitheater (4A-II) and Westwind Prep (2A) and one a runner-up (Chaparral) 5A-II).

Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen said Monday a regular-season basketball doubleheader has been arranged at Mountain View  the first week of the season. The games -- featuring Mountain View vs. Tolleson (girls) and Mountain View against Betty Fairfax (boys) -- will be played in conjunction with the annual induction ceremony of the Mesa Sports Hall of Fame. The contests will take place the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving. Tolleson won the 5A-II girls championship the last three years and Mountain View's girls were a 5A-I semifinalist this past year. Mountain View's boys were 5A-I champs in 2011 and Fairfax was the 5A-II champion.