East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

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  • New divisional placement better with appeal process next

    Phase II of the initial divisional placement was a little more well received.Corrections were made, jaws are only slightly ajar now, and the head scratching was lessened.But the process is far from over.The division appeals deadline for all team sports were pushed back to Feb. 2 at 2 p.m., with the first appeals hearing scheduled for Feb. 3 at 8:30 a.m.The delay came after the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) and its consultants identified that they had utilized the win strength column in the formula instead of the rate value column, as intended.The AIA re-ran the formula and new results were released on Jan. 26.

  • Perry’s Howard could challenge state’s all-time scoring record

    Being great at something brings notoriety, and oftentimes with notoriety comes an inflated ego, a sense of being better than others who haven’t achieved the same level of success.But that isn’t the case for Perry sophomore guard Markus Howard.Instead of holding his nose up at his peers as he walks by, he prefers to embrace them.“When he walks across campus he talks to everybody, he doesn’t big-dog anybody,” said Howard’s coach Joe Babinski. “Sometimes kids get really good and they just (get) too good for everybody else, he’ll talk to everybody on the campus. He’ll clown, he’ll hug them, he’s just a down to earth young man.”That humility extends on the court as well. Howard is capable of taking games over with his quickness and ability to cut to the basket in a flash, and when he needs to he can, but he’s more than happy to dish the ball to an open shooter on the wing when he needs to as well.Babinski has seen his fair share of talented players, but said that Howard stands out among all the others.

  • 14 East Valley squads make boys, girls DI soccer playoffs

    The regular season has come to a close for both boys and girls soccer and the brackets for the 2015 playoffs have been announced.Six East Valley Division I boys teams made the 16-team playoff, while eight DI girls squads qualified for the postseason.The first round of the boys DI tournament kicks off Feb. 4 with 16th-seeded Corona del Sol (10-6-1) against top-seeded Alhambra (17-0). The other East Valley matchups are: No. 12 Perry (8-8) at No. 5 Gilbert (12-3), No. 13 Trevor G. Browne (15-7) at No. 4 Hamilton (16-2-2), No. 11 Sunnyslope (14-4-2) at No. 6 Highland (16-3-2) and No. 10 Ironwood (9-4-2) at No. 7 Chandler (13-1-3).Campo Verde is the lone East Valley team in the boys Division II playoffs and is the No. 2 seed. The Coyotes (16-4-2) will face No. 15 Copper Canyon (15-4) on Feb. 4.Meanwhile, the girls DI tournament starts the day prior on Feb. 3 with: No. 9 Perry (14-5-2) at No. 8 Pinnacle (9-4-2), No. 12 Gilbert (7-6-1) at No. 5 Hamilton (12-3-4), No. 13 Boulder Creek (10-5-5) at No. 4 Highland (20-2-1), No. 14 Ironwood (11-5-2) at No. 3 Desert Vista (14-3-1), No. 11 Basha (14-3-4) at No. 6 Chaparral (11-2-5), No. 10 Willow Canyon (12-5-1) at No. 7 Corona del Sol (5-4-3) and No. 15 Chandler (4-5-1) at No. 2 Xavier (16-1-1). Desert Mountain (16-1-2) is the state’s top seed.The Campo Verde girls team is also the lone girls team from the East Valley in the DII playoffs. It is the No. 11 seed with a 14-5-2 record and will play at No. 6 Sahuaro (14-4-4) Feb. 3.

  • Photos: Corona vs Desert Vista Basketball

    The basketball game between Corona del Sol and Desert Vista at Corona del Sol High School on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

  • Boys basketball: Barcello leads Corona past DV

    TEMPE – Basketball fans wrapped around the building at Corona del Sol with the Sam Duane gym filled to capacity.It was about the only place Alex Barcello didn’t hit a shot from Tuesday in helping Corona del Sol control from the outset in leading the Aztecs to a 71-57 win over Desert Vista.Barcello hit two 3-pointers to start the game on his way to a 31-point game against Thunder.“I always start out aggressive and strong to get the tempo going,” he said. “It sets the tone for the rest of the game.”The atmosphere matched the big-game hype between the Aztecs and Desert Vista as the two Division I teams entered the game at 20-1 each neither having lost against an in-state opponent.Corona only trailed once 18-16, but followed it up an 11-0 to regain control and never let up.

  • Boys basketball: Perry finds right combo against Skyline

    Whether it was taking spot-up jump shots, dishing out assists or driving to the rim, Perry sophomore guard Markus Howard did it all against Skyline.The Pumas (18-4) never trailed as they took down Skyline (10-12) 80-44 Tuesday night at Skyline High School.Perry raced out to an 11-0 lead to start the first quarter and never looked back. Howard finished with 29 points.Early on Perry coach Joe Babinski said it was about finding the right combination the floor.“We just kept substituting until we found a combination that wanted to play hard,” he said. “It got contagious and then the rest of the guys wanted to play hard.”The Pumas held just a 43-33 lead at halftime but blew things wide open in the second half, outscoring the Coyotes 37-11 in the second half.

  • Boys basketball: Perry finds right combo against Skyline

    Whether it was taking spot-up jump shots, dishing out assists or driving to the rim, Perry sophomore guard Markus Howard did it all against Skyline.The Pumas (18-4) never trailed as they took down Skyline (10-12) 80-44 Tuesday night at Skyline High School.Perry raced out to an 11-0 lead to start the first quarter and never looked back. Howard finished with 29 points.Early on Perry coach Joe Babinski said it was about finding the right combination the floor.“We just kept substituting until we found a combination that wanted to play hard,” he said. “It got contagious and then the rest of the guys wanted to play hard.”The Pumas held just a 43-33 lead at halftime but blew things wide open in the second half, outscoring the Coyotes 37-11 in the second half.

  • Gilbert Christian focused on basketball rather than court rulings

    The sun seemed to be shine on Gilbert Christian’s boys basketball program in November, and things were good.With the arrival of new coach Kurt Keener and a pair of transfers in 6-foot-9 junior forward Mitch Lightfoot and 6-foot-7 junior forward Tony Licavoli, the program seemed primed to make a push for a third state title in four years.What it didn’t see, however, was the storm clouds gathering in the distance.The Knights won three of their first four games and, although Licavoli didn’t play due to injury, Lightfoot, who is committed to play basketball at the University of New Mexico, did, and he was the catalyst for much of Gilbert Christian’s success.But the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) had questions about whether or not Lightfoot should be allowed to play for the Knights. There were questions regarding the AIA’s prior-contact rule that prevents coaches from recruiting players to come to certain schools.Lightfoot played for the Arizona Power basketball club team where Keener was a coach. Because Lightfoot had prior contact with Keener through the club team before Lightfoot’s transfer from Ironwood Ridge was complete, the AIA determined that Lightfoot was ineligible.

  • Initial divisional placement has issues, appeal process

    Travis Schureman was a bit perplexed, much like everyone else, but he isn’t as concerned as others about where the Queen Creek football program will land once divisional placement is finalized.The state got a glimpse of what the next scheduling block — through the 2017-18 school year — is going to look like on Tuesday when the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) released its initial divisional placement for team sports.There were several surprises with the focus coming on Division I football, which has two less teams (down to 27 from 29) but six new programs.The biggest surprises came with McClintock and Queen Creek making the leap from Division III to Division I.“The AIA is going to do what it does and we have no control over that,” Schureman said. “We can only control how we prepare for football games.”The Bulldogs have had success in recent years, reaching the state finals twice and winning once over the last three years, and have had played and defeated Division I schools Highland and Perry the last two years.

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