Logistics of scheduling are the most difficult part of an athletics program for home-schooled athletes. But the East Valley Athletes for Christ varsity boys basketball squad has overcome the obstacles and captured its second straight California Christian Homeschool Basketball Tournament title.
The ninth annual tournament was played March 28-31 in and around Riverside, Calif.
EVAC sent five teams (junior high boys, junior varsity boys, junior varsity girls, varsity girls, varsity boys) involving 50 athletes to the tournament. Four of the five teams took either first or second place.
Coached by Jeff Andresen and Marvin Melchor, the varsity team competed against 11 other squads from Arizona, California and Colorado.
“Our team is diverse in their interests, which is one of their strengths,” Andresen said of his team which he described as a Christian-based organization. “Our level of play is equal to 2A or a good rural 3A squad.”
Andresen began the program several years ago when his now 27-year-old son was a sophomore and looking for something to do other than play club ball.
The team is made up of kids from Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Scottsdale. They practice all over but play most of their games at the Broadway Rec Center in Mesa. Games for the most part are against area charter schools which compete in two divisions: A and B. The divisions are similar to Arizona Interscholastic Association guidelines based on the size of the school and the scholastic level of the athletes.
EVAC’s varsity team is composed of sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Team members are: Jake Andresen, Tony Anobile, Tim Berry, Josh Bradford, Steve Bradford, Jonathon Chill, Derek Fritz, Tyler Horton, Evan Lumpkin, Kory Miller, Christopher Van Egmond and Eric Van Egmond.
Christopher Van Egmond, of Chandler, received the tournament MVP award, and all-tournament awards were given to Chill, Miller and Horton.
Horton, a senior from Scottsdale, has been playing on the team since he was a sophomore. He played last season while wearing a knee brace due to a ruptured ACL he spent seven months rehabbing.
Chill, also from Scottsdale, joined the team as a junior this season.
The team’s road to the championship didn’t come easy as it was seeded third in the seven-team top bracket after winning its first two seeding games.
The team rallied from a 22-point deficit in the quarterfinals to win by two, played an overtime grudge match in the semifinals against the team it defeated in 2006 to win the title, then came from 14 points down in the championship game against the top-seeded team for an 81-73 overtime victory and the 2007 championship.
“We struggled early in the season just to score 40 points a game,” Jeff Andresen said.
“But in the championship (of the California tournament) we scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and 17 in overtime. It was just awesome and I had to sit there, be quiet and try not to over-coach.”
Explorer Middle School of the Paradise Valley Unified School District won the girls seventh-grade title at the district’s Sports Festival held last Saturday at Phoenix Shadow Mountain High School.
The team is composed of Alex Betz, Katherine Dorch, Kayla Fall, Katie Jones, Andi Teufel, Emily Wahlberg and Jazzlyn Wilder. The girls are coached by Jenni Littleton and K.K Shaw.
Members of the Power Elite cheerleading squad from Scottsdale-based Xtreme Gymnastics and Cheer have the distinction of being the first team from Arizona to earn a full paid sponsorship ($25,000) to the 2007 Cheerleading and Dance Worlds which will be conducted this weekend in Orlando, Fla.
The team coached by Kelly Cowley went undefeated in Arizona this season and qualified for the Cheer and Dance Worlds by taking the national title in the Level 5 division last month in Atlanta.
The United States All-Star Federation is the host of the competition.
The delegation to Orlando includes: Tori Barrow, Taylor Bolzan, Alexandra Bourland, Delia Castillo, Kendall Conedera, Stacie Goodman, Leah Guerrieri, Megan Klein, Aimee Larson, Markay Lorenzen, Rilee Olson, Taylor Orlando, Brittney Packer, Allison Ruckel, Kaila Scirghio, Brittany Simpson, Rhianna Thurber, Stephanie Walsh, Alexia Whiteman, Ashley Wiebers and Caleigh Winkyaw.