East Valley Victories: Mesa youth wins national NBA skills title - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

East Valley Victories: Mesa youth wins national NBA skills title

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Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 11:57 pm | Updated: 11:45 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

You know how your kids tell you, “Mom/Dad I want to” do this or that? Then you say “OK” without looking up from your magazine or turning away from your television program?

Well, Mesa resident Staci Pietz spent a weekend in Orlando, Fla., compliments of her 11-year-old son Turrell Pietz-Noble after a “Mom I want to” plea he posed earlier this year.

“I’m not even sure when he asked me,” said Pietz. “He just said he was going to try out for this basketball something or other.”

The something or other was local competition for the Junior NBA Skills Challenge. Pietz-Noble won both the local and regional stages in his age division (11-12) to qualify for the nationals May 16-18 in Orlando, Fla., where he was crowned champion again.

“It was a blast,” said Pietz. “And this was the first year of national competition. Usually the contest ends at the regional level.”

Pietz-Noble echoed his mother’s sentiments ... sort of: “It was awesome!”

The Junior NBA Skills Challenge featured more than 52,000 kids in four age groups (7-14) competing in shooting, dribbling and passing competitions.

The top three finishers in each age and gender group advanced to the national finals.

While at the finals, the Mesa Jefferson Elementary fifth grader and his family were treated to trips to the Universal Studios Theme Park and Islands of Adventure. There were also appearances by Nick Anderson, Bo Outlaw, Shane Battier, T.J. Ford and NBA legend Bob Lanier.

“It was like a family reunion where you meet a relative you didn’t know before, but once you get there they make you feel so comfortable and so at home,” said Pietz.

Pietz-Noble had never been to a Suns game but attended the last regular-season game as part of his prize for winning the regional contest. He didn’t get to meet his favorite Suns players — Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire — but “I did get to meet Big Bob Lanier at the national event,” Pietz-Noble said.

His mother said the magnitude of what he did is still settling in.

“While we were in Orlando he said ‘Mom it’s great that I won, but I just love to play basketball.’ ”

Pietz-Noble plays often with his two brothers. Younger brother Cordell Pietz-Noble made it as far as the state level of the skills competition.

Asked if he planned to help train his brother for next year’s competition, Turrell said, “Heck no.”

Staci quickly explained: “Next year Cordell moves up to Turrell’s age division.”


For the third time in four years, the Gilbert Soccer Club Arsenal 93 Premier boys team is the state champ. The team, which also won state championships at the U12 and U13 levels, went 5-0 at the state tournament that ended last Sunday.

Gilbert Arsenal 93 is ranked seventh nationally in its age group in the United States Youth Soccer Association. The state championship puts Gilbert in the Region IV tournament June 16-22 in Honolulu.

The club’s Arsenal 90 Premier (first in the state, fifth in the region, 15th in the country) and Arsenal 91 Premier boys teams will also travel to Hawaii as Arizona state champions.

Regional champions in the U14 through U19 age groups advance to the USYSA national championships July 22-27 in North Little Rock, Ark.

Arsenal 93 is comprised of Devin Foy, John Ropp, Sean Winkler, Tyler Gillaspie, Christopher Webb, Pasha Brown, Angel Luna, Sean Ayers, Adam Rodriguez, Ari Sanchez, Charles LaPose, Kyle Jarvis, Marco Jimenez, Ryan Holt, Preston Baggett, Zachary Nasipak, Tanner Clay and Daniel Berzins.

Coach Drew Guarneri is assisted by Jeff Bricker, who had coached most of the boys since they were 8 years old.

Arsenal 91 Premier is Brett Dirvonas, Austain Fares, Michael Foust, Derek Freeman, A.J. Goshinska, Andy Hoffman, Ryan House, Bran Mason, Sean Morehouse, Kevin Parsons, Ala Puga, Michael Smith, Reid Smith, Chris Trevillyan, David Urbina, Sam White, Matt Widjaja and Joshua Zahn. They are coached by Jeff Perry.

Arsenal 90 Premier is Nick Ayers, Ryan Baker, Connor Berg, Berekk Blackwell, Kyle Ciliento, Nick Dlugas, Ryan Fuertsch, Weston Glenn, Scott Grode, Zack Kampf, Sean Miller, Connor Redd, Willie Rupert, Tyler Schultz, Adam Taylor, Anthony Whitlatch, Cody Wooden and Jake Zimmerman. They are coached by Tim Bartmettler.

All three teams are having fundraisers to defray the costs to Hawaii.

Arsenal 93 Premier is having a car wash at the Circle K on Val Vista and Elliot roads from 7:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. In the same time frame, Arsenal 90 Premier will be washing cars at Arby’s on Baseline just west of Val Vista, and Arsenal 91 will be busting suds from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Valero Station on the southeast corner of Val Vista and Guadalupe.

Arsenal 93 is also having a yard sale Saturday at Patterson Elementary School in Gilbert. Arsenal 90’s two-day garage sale is from 5 a.m. to noon this weekend at 247 E. Jeanine Drive in Tempe.


The Arizona Desert Fire and Pueblo Optimist Basketball Camp for the hearing impaired will be June 16-20 at Grand Canyon University. The event blends competition and training to advance the skill level of participants ages 9-18. Day camp is $200, resident camp is $250. For information visit www.azdesertfire.net or e-mail SilentMenudo@gmail.com or kdchandler@gcu.edu.


LiL’ Dribblers, a beginning basketball program for children ages 3–5, focuses on the basics of passing, dribbling and shooting with an emphasis on physical fitness. Parents participate along with their child designed as their first sports experience. The next four-week session runs from June 7-28. Classes are 40 minutes at Arizona Premier Basketball Academy in Gilbert. Cost is $60. Visit

www.sportsforfunlildribblers.com or call Andy Iwanski at (480) 688-1048.


The Papago FITA Archers held a fund-raiser tournament for Eric Bennet, a one-armed archer and a member of the 2007 U.S. Paralympics Archery World Championships Team who has qualified for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

Athletes for the Paralympic Games are not funded by the United States Olympic Committee, so any athlete who has qualified must pay his own way.

The Papago FITA Archers raised $600 for Bennet, who also shot at the tournament.

Scores of the participants in the archery fund-raiser for Bennet are as follows:

• Cody Johnson, Yeoman compound, male, 656, first

• Colt Van Patter, Bowman compound, male, 681, first

• Skylar VanPatter, Bowman compound, female, 647, first

• Aaron Madsen, Cub compound, male, 538, first

• Karl Leclerc, Cadet recurve, male, 403, first

• Devin Metcalf, Cadet recurve, male, 258, second

• Kyle Pelton, Junior recurve, male, 465, first

• Mackenzie Kieborz, Junior compound, female, 654, first

• ERIC BENNET, Senior compound, male, 668, first

• Mike Van Patter, Senior compound, male, 618, second

• Travis Johnson, Senior compound, male, 592, third

• Mike Mounsey, Master 50 recurve , male, 531, first

• Jim Cantill, Master 50 recurve, male, 477, second

• Sue McGee, Master 50 recurve, female, 531, first

• Angi Olds, Master 50 recurve, female, 398, second

• Marilyn Romaine, Master 50 Barebow, female, 102, first

• Lyn Van Patter, Master 50 compound, female, 536, first

• John Nay, Master 50 compound, male, 600, first

• William Park, Master 70 compound, male, 625, first

• George Kline , Master 70 compound, male, 469, first

  • Discuss


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