By: Ralph Amsden
A much-improved Basha team (11-3) and rival Perry (11-1) square off tonight in the final game of the McClintock Holiday Shootout. Perry comes in as the defending champion of the tournament, winning it in 2013 by beating Desert Ridge in the final game.
Basha has put on a defensive clinic, beating Mountain Ridge 67-33, Campo Verde 57-36 and Westview 44-34. The Bears have allowed just 103 points in 3 games (8.6 per quarter), and held opponents to one basket or less in a quarter five different times. “Our goal is to be the best defensive team in the state,” said Basha head coach Mike Groathaus. “If you look at it, we allowed a total of 8 points combined in the first and fourth quarters of games 1 and 2.”
On the other side, Perry’s exciting offense has carried them past Dobson 84-65, Marcos de Niza 71-66, and Arcadia 68-64. Sophomore guard Markus Howard is averaging 33.3 points per game, and scored 40 in front of ASU coach Herb Sendek, who came out to McClintock to watch the Pumas take on Marcos de Niza. “Markus is playing well,” said Jordan Howard, Markus’ older brother, who is now playing at Central Arkansas. “He’s playing within himself, and the whole team, guys like John (Schlangen) have stepped up.”
Basha and Perry were only slated to meet once this season- January 9th at Perry High. This bonus matchup could see McClintock’s gym turning spectators away, as the max seating is 990 people, and Basha High, which has a much larger gym, had to turn away nearly 300 people who came out to see the regular season matchup between these two rivals last year.
Basha big man Klay Stall has been averaging 15 points and 12.7 rebounds in the shootout, and believes that this might be one of Basha’s best teams to date. “We just get it done,” he said prior to the team’s win over Campo Verde.
Perry is hoping to continue their winning streak over Basha, which covers two games and stretches back to January 15th 2013. In order to do that, they’ll need Cody deLaveaga, Kyle Van Haren, John Schlangen and Brandon Bidese to continue the strong showings they’ve had in tournament play thus far. As for Basha, the Bears’ rotation runs 12 deep, and anyone can be the X-Factor at any time, whether it be senior leader David Perez, or bench booster Kendrick Gannon, who has dunked in each of Basha’s three tournament wins so far.
The game is at 7pm at McClintock High, but we recommend getting there as soon as possible.
For more: Check out our very first winter sports season podcast, hosted by Brett Quintyne-