Monthly Archives: February 2004

high schools

Eagles third in region, but No. 6 at state

by Jason Stone

Ironwood’s girls basketball coach Rob Contrata isn’t sure he understands the logic of the new 5A power point system that seeds the 32 teams for the state tournament.
He is not sure about a system that makes region tournament meaningless and makes possible matchups against region foes in the second round in the state tournament.
Ironwood, which ended up third in the Desert West Region tournament, was seeded sixth for the state tournament and opened Tuesday night against No. 27-seed Hamilton.
Had Ironwood won the game, which was staged past press time, the Eagles could have faced region foe Sunrise Mountain in the next round. Sunrise, the 11th seed, played host to No. 22 Horizon Tuesday.
Ironwood’s spot as the sixth seed was pretty much secured prior to the region tournament, according to power point calculations. The power points measure a team’s record compared to its relative strength of schedule.
That gave Contrata a dilemma entering regionals, however.
Knowing the games were meaningless for state seeding or crowning a region champion since the Desert West officially recognizes the regular season champion as the crown-wearer, Contrata was worried about injuries before his team played Tolleson for a semifinal game last week.
“We play for pride no matter what happens,” Contrata said. “But I was worried about injury. If I lose two of my best players, I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell at state. But I’m not going to tell my kids not to play because I’m saving them for the state tournament.”
Free throws hurt Ironwood down the stretch against Tolleson. Just like the first time when the Eagles lost to Tolleson in December, IHS missed 4 of 5 free throws in the final minute and lost by a point 52-51.
Ironwood rebounded to slam Westview 70-51 in the third-place game.

Deer Valley happy to get away from AHS

Deer Valley is happy to be at the 5A state tournament — not only for their own accomplishment, but they also don’t have to face Alhambra — at least for now.
Alhambra beat Deer Valley twice last week. First, the Lions beat Deer Valley in a tie-breaker playoff game that settled the regular-season champion and top seed at the region tournament.
Then, Alhambra held on a for a 3-point win in the tournament championship game when a Deer Valley full court shot at the buzzer fell just feet short of the basket.
The Skyhawks earned the No. 15 seed at the state tournament, which began Tuesday with a game at home against No. 18 Marcos de Niza.
The game was staged past press time. Had Deer Valley won, it would have likely faced second-seeded Desert Vista.
Had Deer Valley survived both games and played in tonight’s quarterfinals, one of its opponents could be Alhambra, which is playing in a state quadrant with (Mesa) Mountain View, Mesquite and Maryvale.
Because seedings were mostly set prior to region tournaments, the region playoffs didn’t have a sudden death feel to them.
But Deer Valley coach Bill Gollihare said his team still stayed focus going into the state tournament.
“All the girls are competitive and we have a lot of pride, so we went in (to the region tournament) and played hard,” Gollihare said.

Mountain Ridge gets low seed

The new 5A seeding procedure did no favors for Mountain Ridge.
The Mountain Lions received the 30th seed, giving them a first-round game at Salpointe, the state’s third seed, Tuesday in Tucson.
Results of the game were unavailable at press time, but had Ridge won, it would have played the winner of the first round game between Xavier and Saguaro.

Published at glendalestar.com • Feb. 26, 2004

high schools

Cactus girls in position for 4A state title

by Jason Stone

Last year, Cactus’ girls basketball team entered the state Final Four without all its guns.
This time around, the Cobras have a loaded weapon.
Cactus passed its first big test of the 4A playoffs last Friday with a 55-45 win over Chaparral in the quarterfinals.
The Cobras now move on to the Final Four at America West Arena where they will play Flagstaff High at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
It was the semifinals where Cactus ended its season last year. Point guard Jamie Nesbit injured her knee prior to state and missed the Cobras loss to eventual champion Thunderbird.
If Cactus beats Flagstaff, the Cobras will likely get a shot at redemption against the two-time defending champion Chiefs, who play Agua Fria in the other 4A girls semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday.
The championship is set for 5:07 p.m. Saturday at AWA.
Cactus isn’t the only local team still alive for a state championship.
The 5A boys and girls tournaments began Tuesday with Deer Valley and Mountain Ridge seeded ninth and 11th, respectively, in the boys tournament, and Ironwood (sixth), Deer Valley (15th) and Mountain Ridge (30th) earning spots in the girls tournament.
The semifinals for both 5A tournaments are set for March 2, with the championship staged two nights later at America West Arena.

Published at glendalestar.com • Feb. 26, 2004

sports

Glendale Arena ready for first ‘doubleheader’

by Jason Stone

Glendale Arena will be put into overtime this weekend.
The first of two scheduled “doubleheaders” featuring the NLL Arizona Sting and the NHL Phoenix Coyotes will be staged at the facility Saturday n albeit a few hours apart.
Artificial turf will cover the ice for the 12:30 p.m. first drop between the Sting, losers of two straight, and the Anaheim Storm.
Then, the ice will be uncovered for a 7 p.m. hockey game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators.
Separate tickets are needed to get into each game, making it not a true doubleheader. But fans starving for local professional action can get their fill in one day.
The teams will also share the building April 3 when the Coyotes play their final regular-season home game against Chicago at 2 p.m.
Later that day at 7:30 p.m., the Sting will host the Vancouver Ravens.
For tickets to either team’s games, fans can visit www.ticketmaster.com, call Ticketmaster at (480) 784-4444 or view either team’s Web site online n www.arizonasting.com or www.phoenixcoyotes.com.

Published at glendalestar.com • Feb. 20, 2004

colleges

Experience may be key for GCC softball in ’04

by Jason Stone

On the hit TV series, “Fear Factor,” contestants are asked to eat slimy bugs or walk on fire.
The Glendale Community College softball team likes to add a little “Fear Factor” to its practices.
But don’t worry, Mom, you’re daughter isn’t eating moth droppings.
“We kind of like challenge each other like ‘Fear Factor,'” said sophomore pitcher and first baseman Danielle Pope. “But instead of eating something we (challenge for) push-ups.”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a challenge Pope, the team’s leading returning hitter, doesn’t back down from.
During a recent batting practice, Pope had slammed seven balls over the outfield fence and was awaiting the last of her 20-or-so-pitch sequence.
GCC head coach Laura Dodrill, who was up the rightfield line, then challenged Pope to hit another homer.
“Fear factor?” Dodrill yelled. “If you get it, we do 50 (push-ups). If you don’t, players do 25.”
Various players screamed toward Pope to take the challenge. The onetime Goldwater High star took a cut, but got underneath the ball and lofted a lazy pop fly to left center.
“I didn’t have to take the challenge,” Pope said with a smile after finishing off her 25 pushups along with the rest of the 13 players on GCC’s roster.
Pope’s lively bat — and arm, for that matter — will be a big key all season if the Gauchos hope to make a run at an Arizona Community College Athletic Conference championship.
GCC has a lot of experience entering the season, but the lack of reserve bodies has had the Gauchos coaches bracing for an injury-free season.
Nine sophomores make up this year’s squad, including Pope, the top hitter (.398 batting average, six homers) in 2003.
But four players left the team before the semester, leaving Dodrill with only four freshmen and four reserves on the team.
“We don’t even have a normal starting lineup because everybody plays,” Dodrill said.
Helping shoulder the burden will be Pope, who doubles as a starting pitcher, and sophomore Brittani DeRuiter, a former star at Cactus who shares first base and pitching with Pope.
Other key cogs to this year’s team are shortstop Tess Corona, who brings the team speed, second baseman Melanie Bernal, another Cactus player who has been hitting leadoff, catcher Laurie Peterson, and freshman Kari Lewis, a third baseman from Flagstaff who has been used as the team’s “designated player” so far this season.
GCC opened the season with six wins in 11 games.
The Gauchos went 4-3 at their first tournament, losing all three games by one run, which is encouraging to Dodrill that the team is close to winning.

Published at glendalestar.com • Feb. 20, 2004

high schools

NAU signee makes history for Independence

by Jason Stone

How long had it been since a football player from Independence High School received a full-ride scholarship to a university?
Put it this way: Xavier Newbill, who signed with Northern Arizona University last week, was not even alive the last time it happened.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” IHS coach Kelley Moore said.
Not since after the 1982 season, Independence’s only year in the playoffs, had the Patriots sent a player like Newbill to an NCAA Division 1 team.
“Xavier has a lot of tools,” said NAU coach Jerome Souers, who made Newbill one of four freshman recruits from Arizona. “The kid has talented feet, hands and sense of vision on the playing field.”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a running back, the 6-foot, 215-pound Newbill was a big load for opponents to bring down his senior year. As a returner, he was electrifying, earning All-Arizona honors for his special teams work.
But it is at linebacker that he will be used for the Lumberjacks.
NAU coaches paired Newbill with linebacker Bruce Branch during Newbill’s recruiting visit to help with the incoming freshman’s transition.
Branch was a similar player in high school n a big running back and linebacker and has become a potential preseason All-American pick at the position.
Newbill is undecided on his major, “but I want to go into something with business,” he said.
NAU made the Division I-AA playoff quarterfinals last year and earned a share of the Big Sky Conference championship for the first time since 1978.

Published at glendalestar.com • Feb. 12, 2004