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Two Duanes, junior and senior, head up hoops camp

By: Alex Zener   

May 31, 2008   

If your kids are enrolled in the Hoops Star camp this summer at Kiwanis Park, you can expect they’ll be learning basketball fundamentals and shooting skills from a pair of coaches who really know the game, namely the two Sam Duanes, senior and junior.

Duane Sr. was Corona del Sol High School’s first and only basketball coach for almost 20 years. He started when the school opened in 1977, and by the time he retired after the 1996-97 season, he had not only racked up 376 victories but was, at the time, Arizona’s all-time leader in basketball wins.

He also took the Aztecs to the state champion finals nine times, bringing home the trophy four of those times.

During his tenure, the Aztecs had a 46-game winning streak, which indeed was one of the factors behind the naming of the school’s gym in Duane Sr.’s honor.

The only other coach to take the Aztecs to a state championship final is son Duane Jr., or Sammie, as he is best known.

Duane Jr. probably spent more time in Corona’s gym growing up than any other kid in the area. You might say he developed an interest in coaching basketball while under the scorer’s table watching his dad coach before he was old enough to be in high school.

He finally got his chance to play Aztec basketball in 1982, graduating in 1986.

“We also played in a very tough region,” recalls Duane Jr.

“Only difference is that the region consisted of 12 teams—not four teams like the current Central region. The 12 teams included all the Mesa schools, all the Tempe schools, Gilbert and Chandler.”

Only three teams qualified for state, and it was based on the top three finishes in the region tournament, said Duane Jr.

“It was very competitive but very fun. Our region tournament went on for a week, and the gym was packed every night. To just get out of the region and to state was a huge accomplishment.”

“McClintock High School was a big rival of Corona during my years, as well as Marcos,” continued Duane, Jr. “We also didn’t have the 3-point shot, which I would have loved in my day.”

Duane Jr. went on to earn a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science from Grand Canyon University and a Masters Degree in Education Leadership from NAU, at the same time gaining valuable coaching experience.

He coached at Phoenix College and Mesa Community College, and was the first head coach at Gilbert’s Mesquite High School when it opened in 1998. While building the basketball program at Mesquite, Duane Jr. was the Fiesta Region coach of the year two times, and his 2002 Wildcats were ranked No. 1 most of the season, finishing the season 23-8.

Duane Jr. switched his dynasty-building focus from Mesquite to his alma mater, Corona, in 2003, when the head coaching job became available.

Since Duane Jr. came to CdS, the Aztecs have played in the 5A Division I state tournament every year, capturing the runner-up banner in 2006. Duane Jr. also was named Arizona Coaches Association Coach of the year in 2006.

Duane’s overall record at Corona is 92-52. The Aztecs were in the Central region championship game three straight years.

Duane Jr. was not the only kid to get the coaching bug from his dad and legendary basketball coach Duane Sr.

Doug Harris, Desert Vista’s 2008 state championship basketball coach, played for Duane Sr. at Corona. When Harris was a junior, the Aztecs won the 1989 championship, beating Glendale Apollo, 88-85. During his senior year, the team was runner up to Scottsdale Saguaro in the 1990 championship game.

“Two other guys I played with are now head coaches,” said Harris.

Brian Fleming at Mountain Pointe and Scooter Molander, who just won the 2007 state football championship at Brophy, played with me at Corona.”

Together, the father-son duo bring almost 40 years of basketball coaching experience to young boys and girls who want to learn or improve their basketball skills in one of several sports camps offered through the city of Tempe every summer.

The Hoop Star basketball camps are available during three sessions: June 9-12, 16-19 and 23-26.

A shooting camp is scheduled July 7-10, and an offensive camp July 14-17.

To register for any of these classes or get more information, go to .


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