Section 7, a major summer high school basketball tournament featuring several in- and out-of-state programs will make its return after more than a year after the pandemic forced last year’s cancellation.
The event is scheduled to tip off on Friday, June 18 and run through June 20 from State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
“I think I’m just excited for these kids,” said Matt King, the executive director of the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association. “I think this tournament is something kids look forward to. They’ve gone through so much over the last year or two, so I’m thrilled for them to have the opportunity to do this again.”
Before it was forced to halt all operations last summer due to the pandemic, Section 7 had planned to transform State Farm Stadium into a major basketball venue, equipped with 12 courts on the concrete underneath the retractable football field. But as the state began to shut down, Section 7 was postponed.
Now with cases on the decline and the state virtually back to some sort of normalcy, State Farm Stadium was again rented for the tournament. King said the tournament will cater to 160 teams from 12 states this time around, some coming from as far as Washington to compete. Fans will be allowed to sit in stadium seats to take in as many as 12 games per hour.
Some of Arizona’s top programs will also take part in Section 7. Mountain Pointe, which lost in the 6A championship last winter will play along with its Ahwatukee rival, Desert Vista. Hamilton, which made the semifinals last season will also take part along with other Chandler schools, including Basha, Casteel, Chandler and Valley Christian. Gilbert, the 2019 5A champion and semifinal team last season will take part in the three-day tournament with Campo Verde, Highland, Higley, Mesquite, Perry and San Tan Charter.
Mesa will also be well-represented with the likes of Dobson, Mesa and Red Mountain. Scottsdale schools include Chaparral, Desert Mountain, Notre Dame, Rancho Solano Prep, Saguaro and Scottsdale Christian.
“The summer exists for high school teams to get better and to get a feel for each other,” King said. “It’s also an opportunity for them to learn how to compete and how to be coached. Section 7 is an opportunity to elevate that and let college coaches watch it. The way we put this together, we try to make it as competitive and team-oriented as possible.”
The tournament provides an opportunity for teams to gauge where they are before official practices begin next school year. Programs typically compete in various tournaments all throughout the summer months with returning, and at times, new players.
Especially in settings like Section 7, it also provides an opportunity for local programs to measure themselves against elite programs from other parts of the country. Mater Dei, Bishop O’Dowd and Crossroads from California, as well as Washington power Eastside Catholic, will all take part in the tournament.
With a large number of talented players under one roof, King expects several college coaches to attend. Especially now after the NCAA lifted its extended recruiting deadline period initially put in place due to the pandemic.
In many ways, Section 7 will be a one-stop shop for coaches looking for talent at the next level.
“We are very fortunate Division I coaches are able to attend,” King said. “This event is a really big deal to high school programs and it’s also fun for the community to come out and watch.”
For more information about Section 7, including the schedule of events visit az.nhsbca.org/section-seven. Tickets will be available for purchase at State Farm Stadium on the days of the tournament. Day passes will be available for $15 and three-day packages for $30.
“It’s Father’s Day weekend,” King said. “Would you rather sit outside in 115-degree heat or watch a ton of basketball in the same venue the Final Four will be in? To me, it’s a no brainer and I don’t think there is a more affordable, family-oriented event going on that weekend.”