Each and every year, the MLK classic brings some of the top high school basketball match-ups of the season. Spotlighting some of the state’s best teams, but also best players.
The first game between Desert Vista and Mountain View girls basketball teams had some great talent on the floor. It was my first opportunity to sophomore guard Armani Hawkins. She is a great ball handler and is one of the better scorers in the state putting up about 15 points per game. But the Desert Vista Lady Thunder keep getting better and better as the season rolls along. Kristine Anigwe, whom I covered over the holidays, continues to grow as a post presence and because of it, the Thunder are on a roll.
Game two was the first boys hoops game of the day between Coconino and Paradise Valley. Paul Watson was very aggressive in the game leading all scorers with 17. He showed off his great ability not only to score, but to get the the foul line. Ryan Finley also showed off his shooting stroke from three which were big shots in the second half. Coconino gave the Trojans as much as they could handle. The Panthers leading scorer, Andy Bonner, did all he could to keep his team close. He tied for a game high 17. Bonner is one of the top players from up in the Flagstaff area.
Game three was the second meeting of the season between Dobson and Highland. Loads of talent on the floor. Highland did a great job for the most part making the Dobson stars, Jaron Hopkins, Kodi Justice and Ryan Richardson have to work bery hard for their points. Highlands junior Jake Toolson was un-guardable in the second half as he scored from the inside and out putting up 26 and tallied 11 boards. However it still wasn’t enough to beat the Mustangs.
Desert Mountain came into game four of the day riding a 12 game winning streak. The Wolves and the Pinnacle Pioneers have developed a bit of a rivalry over the last few years and it showed with the great intensity this game had. After having to sit out last season because of transferring from St. Mary’s, Desert Mountain Rolondo Rhymes has bursted onto the scene in 2012-13. He had a huge game doing what he does best, beating players off the dribble and scoring in the paint finishing with a game hight 28 on the night.
But Pinnacle got a huge game from an up and coming junior point guard by the name of Trey Ingram who had 25. Pinnacle’s Dorian Pickens told me after the game that Ingram is improving by the game and which has been huge for their team. Pickens and Drew Bender were big in the closing minutes for the Pioneers as they held on to beat Desert Mountain.
The final game between the two best girls basketball teams in the state in what could have been a state championship preview. St. Mary’s love to bring the pressure defensively and with the great athleticism at the guard position, their full court press is very tough to break. Because of it, Sydney Weiss and the Pioneers turned the ball over far too often and found themselves in too much of a hole. Chantel Osahor, the University of Washington commit, was spectacular finishing two assists short of a triple double with 12 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. The Lady Knights may have lost their first game in quite some time earlier this season to Santa Ana, CA Mater Dei in the Nike Tournament of Champions, but they made a clear statement that they are still the ones to beat in the state of Arizona.