THE FIRST ANNUAL
CRASHTHEBOARDS.COM FALL SHOOTOUT
Coach Trousdale and Arizona State University opened the gym and the players came out to play. A mostly Arizona tourney also featured players from Las Vegas, New Mexico and California. Anyone who decided to come out Sunday was treated to great games, great performances and, especially during the Top 20 All Star Game that wrapped up the festivities, kids having fun playing basketball.
We'll start with the aforementioned All Star Game. SCA's Alex Rodgers was named MVP of the game as he went 8 for 11 from behind the arc and carried his team to a 99-84 win.
The game featured several interesting matchups. Seton's 6'9" Drew Arnold and Greenway's 6'9" Jon Black squared off in a matchup of two of Arizona's biggest players. After a problematic tip off (had to be repeated because although those two are big, they don't jump so good) they about equaled each other out 1 on 1.
But Drew didn't get dunked on by 6'5" junior Alfonzo McNeal of Las Vegas's El Dorado High. C'mon Jon, you know he got you.
TJ Benson and Kal Bay squared off for the second time of the day, and TJ won both battles. During their first matchup Benson was able to take Bay to the hoop in the first half and then light it up from outside in the second. Just before the All Star game, as the two teams matched up Benson smiled and asked Bay who he was taking, "Oh, I got you." Bay said smiling. Bay looked more to distribute than score, and Benson continued his hot hitting. Benson may have won the individual battle, but Bay's team won the game.
It was bound to happen eventually, Jon Black hit a 3 pointer.
I've succumbed to the pressure and assigned my first nickname to Artie "Dirty Work" Donzella. Why? Because he'll do whatever you need him to. Playing under Coach Andy Acedo on the Florida team with Travis Gabbidon Artie looked to rebound and play tight D. But in the championship game between Florida and Coach Trousdale's Indiana team Gabbidon crumpled to the ground with 9:00 left and the Florida squad down 16. Gabbidon wouldn't return (don't worry, he tweaked an ankle but he'll be fine) so "Dirty Work" and DV senior Chris Martinez took over (both finished with 10, both got 8 of their 10 in the 2nd half) and Florida roared back with a 19-5 run to end the game. They came up just short though as Indiana held on 61-59. "Dirty Work" did what he does best all weekend, what is that? Whatever you need.
Corona sophomore Clayton Bates showed that while he's only 6'3", he plays as tough as anyone in the paint.
Bates was only one of a host of sophomores who made big impressions. By far the player and fan favorite was Las Vegas sophomore Chris Scott. Why? Possibly because he was bombing away from 22, 24, and 26 feet away with guys in his face. More likely because at 5'4" those defenders were well above his face.
"Simmer down, that's way too much coaching." Trousdale to Team Michigan's Coach Roberts after Roberts actually stood up during a game.
Longest three of the tournament went to Mt. Ridge's Robert Quaintance who buried a trey from the next area code (read 29 feet). Later he told me he "Had no legs at all." Okay, so with legs his range is what, Maricopa County?
Watch out for a potential Corona dynasty. Along with Bates Corona sent sophomores Demetrius Earl (great athlete, still learning the game), Darryl Coates (smart, deceptively quick point guard), Alex Murphy (a big body who's ready to mix it up down low), and Eric Michalis who's smooth 3 stroke and nose for the ball shows far more promise on the court than on paper.
Desert Vista is DEEP. Along with Gabbidon (who quite literally played every position on the court) and (a notably absent on Sunday) Xavier Kilby, DV showcased Chris Martinez (great hops, quick first step, long arms), junior Johnny Pinto (can't you just hear an announcer saying his name? oh, and he's a hard nosed player who doesn't back down from anybody inside of 15 feet), and the guard trifecta of jr. Dutch Perryman (a great shooter with a quick release), Adam Richardson (assertive and always seemed to be around the ball), and soph John Walsh (good shooters who played smart and hit open shots without ever forcing anything). This team is going to be looking to play double headers.
Another interesting matchup came in the Championship Game when Brophy's senior starting PG, Thanasi Pangiotakopoulos, matched up with Brophy's junior backup PG Rodney Brown. T-Soup was far more consistent (he went for 16 in the first half of the championship game) but Rodney Brown made sure his body cashed his mouth's check. Before one game he asked me if I'd write anything about him. I jokingly replied, "Sure, I'll write about how you don't scare anybody outside of 15 feet." So he guaranteed me he'd hit at least three treys in his next game. He went 4 of 6 from behind the arc, and he's still got a truly sick crossover.
One assumed with so many great athletes Sunday might have been Dunk Central. It was far closer to a Block Party. Notables...Apache Junction's Steve Elman rocked Saguaro's Derek Tarapacki, but I'm sure Derek appreciated when Gabbidon threw Elman later in the day. Big Jon Black had a couple of rejections...but he still got dunked on (sorry Jon, had to go there one more time).
Westview's Vince Oliver and Mesquite's Mark Dornik had the best showings of the (admittedly few) freshmen. Oliver has good hops, but even more impressive poise playing with older, bigger, more experienced upperclassmen. Dornik seemed to force some shots early but (with VC's Boomer Roberts and Brian Botma to shepard him) settled into the offense.
Not coincidentally Team Michigan (Roberts, Dornik, Botma, Upland Christian CA's Jake Garcia and El Dorado NV's Mike Besaw among others) played the best 'team basketball' of the tourney.
Saguaro's Justin Ashbaugh doesn't get the press and the fanfare of some others. He just produces, always running the floor, hitting the glass and scoring seemingly whenever he wants to.
Adam Baker might average 2 points a game for Seton, but he'll dominate the 2nd half of the stat sheet (steals, assists, hustle points).
T-Soup looked like Rocky Balboa after taking a shot to the eye. No confirmation on whether the cuts (both above and below the left blinker) were the result of one of his many female fans, or an actual basketball injury.
Coronado senior Parris Allison-Greene can flat out rise, and then when he gets up there he just uses his imagination and improvises.
Johnny Pinto (can't get over how cool that name sounds) is fundamentally amazing and featured a baseline bank shot rarely seen at this level.
Alex Rodgers can take over the game, and not just playing with 2A kids, he did it against all levels on Sunday. He was more aggressive than I've seen him when he took the ball to the basket, and it opened up the jumper for him later.
This was quite obviously a learning experience for the youngsters, and they took full advantage.
They might not match up to the Elmans and the Cummards when you pull out a tape measure, but North Canyon jr Jeremy Belt had shockingly good hops and excellent floor vision to go along with a Germaine Calvin-esque first step.
Speaking of Garcia, the California guard came down and quickly learned the best way to fit in with the VC boys was to run the floor and hit long range jumpers.
Coach Brett Stephens on running Team Arizona State (comprised of eight members of Mesa High including Lee Cummard) "I said, Lee, give me your starting five, and then I sat down." Later he coached the losing All Star team and said, "I picked 5 and sent them out there, then I sent the other 5 in a little later. I wish it was always this easy."
Steve Elman likes the idea of joining Matt Refner at NAU. He hasn't committed yet, but it probably won't be long.
Another fan favorite had to be Tyler Miller. Talk about stepping up! This kid is an 8th grader at Willis. Not only is he an 8th grader, he's supposed to be a 7th grader. He's skipping a grade because he's, get this, smart enough to do so. He only scored once on Sunday, but the smile on the kid's face made you hope he got 30.
Brian "Boomer" Roberts couldn't get his shot to fall consistently on Sunday. Did he crawl into a hole and hide? As "Boomer" himself would say, "Heck no!" He ran the floor, got Botma and Garcia good shots, and left it all on the floor. His reward? A beautiful young lass asked him to SCA's homecoming. And you say only the scorers get the girl. It's gotta be the hair.
In my last Random Notes I talked about the SCC fall league and mentioned how Brian Botma got outplayed by Adam Baker. He did, but there's a few more layers to the story. Let's start with this. A torn hamstring. That might affect his play a bit huh? But come on, the great ones play hurt right? He was also nursing a concussion he suffered five days before. Maybe he got outplayed that day, but he played. That is the very definition of a warrior. On top of that, I didn't even get this info from Botma! I talked to him early Sunday and asked him about it. He defended his play, mentioning that Baker didn't even get double digit points, but never mentioned the injuries. Botma came out Sunday and played like the leader we've heard he is at VC. I'd love to say that he took what I said personally, that I had somehow 'inspired' Botma to up his level of play. But that would be, as Roberts would say, 'poop.' Botma is a talented, tough player. He only got outplayed because he refused to sit, even when he wasn't 100%. This weekend one of the highlights was watching the 6'0" Botma body up against the 6'9" Jon Black. While he didn't completely shut Black down, he certainly didn't back down. I meant no disrespect to Brian, I simply called it as I saw it, and I will continue to do so. You know what I saw in Brian Botma this weekend?
The best part of the tourney? For my money it was the smiles. These kids had fun. They played hard, they played to win, but they had fun. It made the games fun to watch. Sure there were nailbiters, there was very competitive basketball, but Coach Trousdale, Crashtheboards.com, and co-sponsors the Arizona Cagers should all be commended. The season is less than two months away and the games will be taken much more seriously then, but these kids had a great time this weekend. Because of that, I don't think I'm the only one looking forward to next year.