It was a repeat performance of sorts for the Arizona Magic club program. After last year's Arizona Magic Pump N' Run-2012's won the same Double Pump event last spring, this year's Arizona Magic Pump N' Run-2014's would return to win this year's 2012 Double Pump Best Buy Challenge Hoop Fest.
A team comprised of many of the state's top sophomore prospects would win this year's 16U Gold Division tournament crown after knocking off some stiff competition on the way to a tournament championship.
After already having defeated one of the nation's top 16U teams, the Oakland Soldiers, on Saturday afternoon, the Magic, led by the play of Corona Del Sol High School's 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard Casey Benson, would cruise to a tournament championship after a big 72-62 championship victory over the Double Pump Elite (CA).
In the game, the Magic would overcome a big 16-2 deficit early in the game to come from behind and earn the victory.
Casey Benson would make big shot after big shot for his team with the game close, while each member of this year's team would contribute in a big way to help the Arizona group to the tournament title.
"Very proud of our 2014's," says head coach and Director of Basketball Operations, Jeff de Laveaga. "The boys knock off a top 10 team (Oakland Soldiers) by 16 and then proceeded to play at a high level - eventually beating the Double Pump Elite squad by double figures in the finals. Our Magic kids play the game the right way and had many coaches and parents of other teams come up to me letting me know how much they enjoyed watching our kids play."
Every player on the Magic team contributed big to their tournament victory this weekend, as each player seemed to have big games when needed throughout their tournament run.
This year's version of the Magic-2014's consist of sophomores Casey Benson (Corona Del Sol HS), Tate De Laveaga (Horizon HS), Jordan Howard (Perry HS), Roberto Reyes (Gilbert Christian HS), Sam Jones (Gilbert Christian HS), Zylan Cheatham (South Mountain HS) and Connor MacDougall (Desert Vista HS).
In the tournament semi-finals, the Magic would also defeat the Utah Pump N' Run, 67-50 to advance to the tournament's championship game.
"They deserve everything that's coming their way now and in the future," said Jeff De Laveaga. "Very few kids work as hard and have made the sacrifices they choose to do to be able to play at the next level."