A team made up of Desert Vista High School students just wanted a chance to play where the Phoenix Suns do.
But the Heavy Hitters got more than they had ever dreamed of when they took to that court recently and captured the Division II title in the YMCA Competitive team after defeating their counterparts from the West Valley in a nail-biter 48-44.
Though the game was played on the practice court of the Suns’ home at Talking Stick Arena, Coach Jerry Ervin said, “it still was a privilege to be able to play there.”
And how they got there is a story in itself.
The team formed a few months ago after Ervin’s son Elijah and Dean Bittner, the son of Ahwatukee Little League President Dave Bittner, want to play some roundball.
So, the boys rounded up a small pack of classmates with the same desire. Most members of the team – made up mostly of sophomores with two freshmen and a junior – play football, run track or play volleyball or baseball for their high school.
“The team was started because Dean Bittner and Elijah Ervin wanted to play basketball in order to keep in shape and have some fun in between their fall and spring sports seasons,” said the senior Ervin, who coached the team along with Dave Bittner. Both Ervin and Bittner have coached various teams for five years.
At one point, the team seemed unstoppable, going 5-0 in the Y Competitive League’s top high school division.
They dropped their next three games, Ervin said, but “going into the playoffs, we refocused and fine-tuned our offense and defense.”
“For the first game of the playoffs, we, the No. 3 seed squared off against the No. 6 seed,” Ervin said. “Right from the start, we came out aggressive on offense and defense. We ended the first quarter with a 21-0 lead. We kept up the intensity and by the third quarter, our starters were sitting out for the rest of the game. We won the game by a score of 60-43.
Then they took on second-seed Mountain View, which had handed the Heavy Hitters their first loss of the regular season.
“This was the only team that we had not beat during the regular season. We came out strong on offense and defense against them as well. Throughout the game we were able to maintain a 10-15-point lead. When it was all said and done we won the game 41-26,” Erwin said.
Then game the qualifying game to play on the Suns’ turf.
Though they lost, “it was a hard fought and our boys played with a lot of heart and intensity,” Ervin said.
But the Heavy Hitters still made it to the Suns’ practice court through a variety of circumstances, and took on the West Valley Champions.
“This is what our boys worked so hard for all season long, was for this moment,” Ervin said. “It was a great feeling for everyone to be there.”
“It was an amazing season and the boys came together as a team and ultimately achieved the goal that they set at the beginning of the season,” he added. “We will look to do it all over again next year.”