A pre-Thanksgiving boys basketball tournament won’t be enough for the Mesa school district this year.
Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen recently completed the groundwork on a 16-team tournament that debuts the day after Christmas and will be hosted by three-time 5A state champion Mesa Mountain View.
The tournament is dubbed the Arizona Basketball Challenge with 12 schools from Arizona and four from out of state in the field. It will start Dec. 26 and continue through the title game on Dec. 29. All games will be played at Mountain View.
Schools entered are Mountain View, Mesa Dobson, Mesa Red Mountain, Chandler Hamilton, Chandler Valley Christian, Gilbert Highland, Scottsdale Saguaro, Phoenix Pinnacle, Phoenix North, Tucson, Laveen Cesar Chavez, Glendale Cactus, San Diego Horizon Christian, Cincinnati Taft, Cleveland Heights and Provo, Utah.
Pinnacle and Saguaro were 4A Division I semifinalists last season, and Valley Christian was the 2A champ.
Mountain View features senior shooting guard Brendon Lavender, who committed this past spring to the University of Arizona. Another Arizona commitment in the field is Horizon Christian center Jeff Withey, a 7-foot senior who averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds per game last season.
Mesa High will continue to host an invitational three days before Thanksgiving, and Mesa Skyline also hopes to host a tourney the same week, Hogen said.
SOFTBALL COACH HIRED
Wes Little has been named coach of the Scottsdale Chaparral softball team. Little was an assistant under Brad Goddes last season for the Firebirds, who made the 4A-I state title game.
SABERCAT A WILDCAT
Scottsdale Saguaro lineman Chris Merrill has verbally committed to the University of Arizona to play football. Merrill had 54 tackles and nine sacks last year as a junior, helping to lead the Sabercats to the 4A-I state title.