Holiday Hoops Tour
brought us to the desert once again for the Nike Tournament of Champions held in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Mesquite High School and Highland High School in Gilbert, Arizona as well as the Salvation Army KROC Center in Phoenix hosted over 80 teams from all over the country. A great contingent came from California and Arizona of course, and teams from Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Georgia, Nebraska, Tennessee, New York, Oregon, Missouri, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Washington, DC joined them.
This was the 20
annual TOC and it is the must see event in the days leading up to Christmas. From a recruiting standpoint there are players in every position for every level at this tournament. The brackets are loaded with teams that play different styles and the experienced and decorated coaches and talented players never disappoint.
The tournament was split into five brackets:
divisions. College coaches littered the stands in the gyms and all of the major player and team evaluation organizations closely watched the action as well. There will be adjustments to the national polls after the results in Phoenix.
- You can review the brackets HERE
The TOC was full of a fairly level playing field in the respective divisions complete with what were considered first round “upsets”, overtime nail-biter wins, and also thrilling buzzer beaters.
Joe Smith Bracket
Grandview (CO) vs Miami Country Day (FL)
St. Mary’s Stockton (CA) vs Clovis West (CA)
Clovis West (67) over Miami Country Day (45)
John Anderson Bracket
Christ the King (NY) vs Mesquite (AZ)
Incarnate Word (MO) vs Brentwood Academy (TN)
Mesquite (60) over Incarnate Word (50)
Dan Wiley Bracket
Omaha Northwest (NE) vs Chaparral (AZ)
Canyon (CA) vs Desert Mountain (AZ)
Chaparral (46) over Desert Mountain (42)
Derril Kipp Bracket
Sacramento (CA) vs Oaks Christian (CA)
Woodinville (WA) vs Eastlake (CA)
Sacramento (46) over Woodinville (34)
Mike Desper Bracket
Bishop O’Dowd (CA) vs Cactus Shadows (AZ)
Highlands Ranch (CO) vs Miramonte (CA)
Bishop O’Dowd (54) over Highlands Ranch (47)
In a refreshing trend throughout bracket competition and carrying into championship Thursday, the winners played a high level of
basketball. There were multiple supremely talented teams in each bracket. The teams that moved the ball, showed the discipline to stick to game plans and play within themselves and to their strengths, had the ability to make adjustments, rotated and rebounded on defense, and took good shots made the run to the trophy.
Several teams had a “coach on the floor” type of point guard, which speaks to both the coaching leadership and the dedication of these young ladies to the game. The “growth of the game” is often referenced, and it is evident that there has been some return on investment in the way these players play the game and lead their teams. Their passing, effort, intensity, and passion are contagious and it shows in the quality of basketball that their teams play. Their skills and their growing knowledge of the game translate to every level.
In spending the better part of the last two months watching high school games all over the country, meeting and visiting with coaches, and talking to parents and players, there is a yearning for a more consistent high quality of play. The “growth of the game” is not going to come from individual playmaking ability. It is going to come when more players and teams realize that flow and team play make this game fun to watch and play, especially in the women’s game. They have to get outside of themselves and find that the game becomes easier and the playmaking opportunities come when the ball moves and finds the open man or a teammate talks on defense and rotates to challenge a shot without fouling or the eighth man off the bench dives to make a hustle play to save a possession.
Players: Watch games and ask yourself “why is this team winning?” or “what adjustments have they made over the course of the game?” that you thought were effective. Invest in your fundamental skills. The ball cannot move well if a team cannot make the correct pass at the precise time. Defense is really hard if you do not have good footwork and don’t maintain a disciplined defensive stance. The extra pass to the open man is not worth anything if the open man cannot be shot ready and knock down a jumper before a long athletic defender closes out on them. It is hard to utilize a quality post presence if post entry passing is not a strength, or you are unsure how to counter to the help defense you are reading. The game has many phases and levels and you can continuously improve.
“All I Want for Christmas” is a continued collective commitment to fundamental team basketball so the immense talent out there can be maximized. We are seeing a positive trend. That is where we will see the game grow.
This tournament had several really good teams that showed the commitment to quality of play, and consequently, they won a lot of games and will continue to do so. There are some really good teams in this country that have a lot of talent and play some really good team basketball. This is a wonderful thing and is really enjoyable to watch.
did a masterful job of playing multiple defenses throughout the tournament in relation to their respective opponent. They displayed the ability to execute a game plan and adjust on the fly. A clinic video could be created from their team’s willingness to make the extra pass to get an open good shot. They are patient on offense and just keep attacking layers of the defense until they get the rhythm shot that they want or the driving lane for which they had been waiting. Coach
coaches them hard and they respond.
There are a couple of fairly young teams that showed very well.
out of Oakland and
out of St. Louis get heavy contributions from sophomores and freshman and will both be teams on the rise as they gain experience and seasoning.
We got rain in the desert towards the end of the tournament and the sunrises and sunsets over the mountains are always worth a few minutes to stop and observe at this time of year. The Tournament of Champions is a high quality event and will continue to be a major stop every December on the circuit.
We appreciate the opportunity to come and see this beautiful game being played at a high level during what is a glorious time of year. It is time to sign off for a bit and go spend time with our families and friends.
Premier Basketball Team
wishes everybody a
Safe Travels to all and we will see you in the gym for the
A full player report from this tournament is available to our PBR subscribers.