The fifth Martin Luther King Basketball Classic grew this year with four junior college games added to the equation two days ago at Mesa Community College’s Theo Heap Gymnasium.
The high school portion continues today on Valley and Tucson fronts at Wells Fargo Arena and McKale Center, respectively.
The marquee game of the five contests at Wells Fargo today features the hard-charging 5A-I Mesa High boys (10-7) against 5A-II Phoenix Pinnacle (15-4), arguably that division’s top team to date. Tipoff is at 4:45 p.m.
“It’s a pretty good showdown,” Mesa coach Shane Burcar said, referring to Jackrabbit forward Aaron Fuller and Pinnacle forward Taylor Rohde. “Pinnacle has played well all year. We’ve played a lot better lately.”
Rohde, a 6-foot-7 senior, is already delivered to ASU next fall, signing with the Sun Devils in November. Fuller, a 6-7 forward, is adding suitors every day and should have a destination when the next signing date comes. Last Tuesday, Rohde scored 47 points in a win over top Pima Region rival Scottsdale Horizon. The same night, Fuller scored 46 points vs. Mesa Westwood, breaking a 36-year-old school record for points in a game.
Mesa point guard Donte Medder (13.4 points per game) and Pinnacle’s Nuno Muandumba (11.8 ppg) offer another good matchup.
For the first time in the tournament’s tenure, an East Valley school heads to Tucson. Mesa Mountain View takes on Tucson High at
6 p.m. game at McKale. That game will be telecast live by Cox Channel 7.
Since the tournament’s inception in 2004, 21 girls teams and 30 boys team from the Valley and Tucson have participated. This year there are eight boys teams and four girls teams making their tournament debut.
Players of note who have participated over the years are Tucson Salpointe’s Sybil Dosty (Tennessee-ASU); Glendale Deer Valley’s Lawrence Hill (Stanford), Christian Polk (ASU) and Joey Shaw (Indiana); Mesa’s Graham Hatch (Wichita State); Phoenix Brophy’s Brad Strittmatter (Princeton) and David Schneider (William & Mary); Mesa Dobson’s Marissa Stotler (Washington State) and Mickey McConnell (St. Mary’s); Phoenix St. Mary’s Dymond Simon (ASU), Nicole Neals (Nebraska) and Jerryd Bayless (Arizona); Gilbert Mesquite’s Gavin Edwards (UConn); Mountain View’s Harper Kamp (California), Kendall Wallace (UNLV) and Brooke Jackson (BYU); Mesa Red Mountain’s Kayla Pedersen (Stanford) and Bonnie Barbee (Colorado State); Glendale Cactus’ Rebecca Tobin (ASU) and Phoenix Desert Vista’s Ty Abbott (ASU).
MLK Basketball Classic
Where: ASU Wells Fargo Arena; UA McKale Center
Today’s Wells Fargo Arena schedule: 1:45 p.m. - (girls) Gilbert Highland vs. Tempe Marcos de Niza; 3:15 p.m. - (boys) Chandler Basha vs. Phoenix North; 4:45 p.m. - (boys) Mesa High vs. Phoenix Pinnacle; 6:30 p.m. - (boys) Mesa Dobson vs. Laveen Cesar Chavez; 8 p.m. - (girls) Dobson vs. Phoenix Xavier
Today’s McKale Center schedule: 1:30 p.m. - (girls) Tucson Salpointe vs. Tucson Ironwood Ridge; 3 p.m. - (boys) Tucson Catalina Foothills vs. Tucson Canyon del Oro; 4:30 p.m. - (boys) Tucson Santa Rita vs. Tucson Palo Verde; 6 p.m. - (boys) Mesa Mountain View vs. Tucson High; 7:30 p.m. - (girls) Tucson Flowing Wells vs. Tucson Sahuaro
Players to watch: Taylor Rohde, Pinnacle boys; Aaron Fuller, Mesa boys; Morgan Wohltman, Highland girls; Joy Burke, Marcos de Niza girls; Blake Nash, Basha boys; Daniel Bejarano, North boys; Taylor Johnson, Dobson boys; Kaylim Noel, Cesar Chavez boys; Andrea Jones, Dobson girls; Cassie Keating, Xavier girls