Day one of this year's Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge got underway in epic fashion, as the final evening match-up between Apollo High School (12-2) and Corona Del Sol (10-2) would make for one of the best games of the high school season. When you consider the individual performances, the level of talent displayed on the court and the anticipation of the large crowd in attendance, it may have been the best game of the season.
With many games being played on the day, and many top prospects taking court throughout the day's action, no one turned in a better performance on the day than the combination of four division-I guards that took center stage on Tuesday evening. Apollo's senior guards Holland "Boo Boo" Woods (Portland State signee) and Dre Marin (Southern Utah signee) went head-to-head with Corona's star senior guard tandem of Alex Barcello (University of Arizona signee) and Saben Lee (Vanderbilt University signee).
Apollo's guards would have the opportunity to make their claim as the best backcourt in the state, but it would come against a Corona tandem that currently holds the undeclared title - as both Corona prospects signed with schools at the high-major division-I level. Apollo's tandem would come up huge as Holland Woods would explode for a game-high 35 points and 4 assists, while Dre Marin would ignite for 30 points of his own - leading Apollo to a big 92-79 victory.
Corona's guard tandem, while getting down early in the first half, 44-29, after Dre Marin would pour in 25 first half points and Woods would finish with 20 of his own, would bring their team back in the second half. While Corona would outscore Apollo (50 to 48) in the game's second half, the first half lead would be too much to overcome for the Aztecs. Saben Lee and Barcello would turn in terrific performances of their own in the game's second half, as Lee would finish with a team-high 30 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, while Barcello would fire off 29 points.
Apollo is one of the clear favorites this high school season to compete for a 5A Division state title, and Corona is still a favorite to compete for a 6A Division state title, but on Tuesday evening Apollo proved that they are worthy and prepared to play with anyone in the state of Arizona. These four guards also proved just how good the level of basketball prospects that we have in the state. While these days, Arizona is not filled with many great high school teams, we definitely have many gifted individual basketball prospects.
Notes: Chaparral High School's gifted 6-foot-2 unsigned senior point guard Colten Kresl continues to perform at a high rate - leading his team to a nice 59-50 win over Copper Hills (UT) High School on Tuesday. Kresl finished with 18 points and 6 assists in the win, and took over the game late for his team. Kresl continues to impress and now has Boise State, UNLV, New Mexico State, Texas State, Albany and Northern Arizona showing very serious interest. Look for Kresl to continue to see his college recruitment soar as we near the spring. Kresl is among the state's top individual performers, and has led Chaparral (10-1) to a great start to the season . . .
St. Mary's High School (7-5) turned in a big win on Tuesday, knocking off Red Mountain 59-33 in very surprising fashion. Red Mountain is led by one of the elite prospects in Arizona's 2018 class, 6-foot-5 junior wing Timmy Allen. Allen struggled from the field on Tuesday and was unable to get anything going, amidst the defensive pressure of the St. Mary's guards. 6-foot-10 junior post KJ Hymes played well for the Knights - scoring inside and out, and leading his team to the big victory.