The Desert Vista boys basketball team wrapped up a frenetic few weeks of summer basketball by taking part in the Mesa PrimeTime basketball tournament on Friday and Saturday at Red Mountain High.
The Thunder was missing several key players, but did finish 2-2 over the two days, beating Chaparral and Mountain Pointe while losing to Pinnacle and Mountain View. Desert Vista went 21-10 last year and made the state quarterfinals before losing to Sierra Vista Buena last year. The team is expected to be a title contender in the winter because five of its top six scorers return.
Desert Vista was without Danny Powell, the team's leading scorer from last year, John Marshall, Steve Klein and others. Jeff Lowery, who recently committed to play for Grand Canyon University and participated with coach Russ Pennell in the stands, was the biggest name playing for the Thunder in the tournament.
Coach Dave Williams estimated that 80 percent of his team in the PrimeTime tournament was freshmen or sophomores, and that it was a good learning experience for them.
"They got a chance to see how good programs work, and how to execute and be patient," Williams said, adding that he has been happy with his team's play in summer ball. He said the team only has two losses when the whole group has been together, and that defense and transition offense are the areas he's been most pleased with.
This is Williams' second season coaching Desert Vista, and he said the team is further along this year than last.
"We've been killing people, man," Williams noted. "We're playing well."
Mountain Pointe was a late addition to the field, and held its own with a 2-2 record. The Pride had an impressive opening-game victory over Corona del Sol, which was the tournament's top seed and one of the early favorites for next season.
Mountain Pointe has to replace three starters, including Tylor Wimbish and Jerome Garrison, the heart of the team last season. Khari Holloway and Marcus Ramirez return to lead the group, and players like Jalen Brown and Austin Witherill should have bigger roles this season.
Mountain Pointe coach Brian Fleming said the win over Corona del Sol was a good one for the team's confidence heading into the year.
"As a confidence-builder for these guys, that's huge," Fleming said. "In my eyes, I think (Corona del Sol) is unbelievable. They've got a nice group. It's a big confidence-builder for our kids, just from the standpoint of, ‘Wow, we can play with somebody.'"
Mountain Pointe went 22-6 and lost to Mesa in the state quarterfinals last season.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6834 or Kodegard@evtrib.com