The tournament field is strewn with gaudy records and high-powered competition, but it has a different atmosphere than many tournaments.
The second annual Arizona Basketball Challenge, hosted by Mesa Mountain View High School, begins today and continues through Tuesday with 16 teams — most with many more wins than losses. It also blends nicely with the spirit of the holidays.
“It does have a relaxed feel to it,” Mesa Dobson coach Rick McConnell said. “It’s a scheduled tournament. You know who you play each day and there are plenty of good games and good matchups. It’s a showcase and it’s well-run, and that makes it enjoyable. Once the games begin, the competitiveness kicks in.”
Twelve schools from Arizona and four from out of state comprise the field. The tourney kicks off at 9 a.m. with eight games each of the four days .
There is no championship game, per se, as is the case in most tournaments. Matchups for the final day are determined after the first three days and generally match teams based on performance the first three games.
Top teams by record are:
• Host Mountain View (8-0), which won a tournament in Reno Nev., earlier this month.
• Phoenix North (9-1), which lost for the first time Tuesday to Laveen Cesar Chavez in the Phoenix Union High School Tournament final.
• Gilbert Highland, the top-ranked team in the Tribune’s latest 5A-I rankings at 10-1.
• Goodyear Estrella Foothills, a 3A power in the state and currently No. 1, is 7-1.
• Dobson, which struggled out of the gate, is 7-3 after a 2-3 start.
• Mesa Red Mountain (8-3) has two of its losses to Highland.
• Cesar Chavez (9-1) has lost only to Phoenix St. Mary’s.
Phoenix Pinnacle, Chandler Hamilton and the four of out-of-state entries -- Lone Peak, Utah, Sagemont, Fla., Federal Way, Wash., and Harvard-Westlake, Calif., also have winning records.
Some of the top players are guard Tyler Haws and center Nate Austin from Lone Peak, both BYU commitments; Highland sophomore guard Matt Carlino, who has committed to Indiana; Estrella Foothills guard Corey Hawkins (ASU commitment); Pinnacle guard Nuno Muandumbo (Lamar); Mountain View guard Nathan Murphy (UCal-San Diego): Federal Way’s Jeff Forbes (Eastern Washington); and North’s Daniel Bejarano (Texas commitment).
Bejarano’s status for the event is in question after he suffered an injury to his tailbone during North’s game with Cesar Chavez.