Sports notebook: Aztec hoopsters start strong with 11-3 record

Senior Anthony Irvin averages 19 points per game and is the leading scorer on Corona’s boys basketball team. — Photos courtesy

By Alex Zener

Corona’s boys basketball team, led by two senior guards, started the season strong with an 11-3 record and is currently ranked No. 3 in the 6A Division after winning all four of their games at the Visit Mesa Tournament held Dec. 26-30 at Mountain View High School.

“We are happy to be 11-3,” said coach Neil MacDonald. “Our guys are working hard and we are getting better each week.”

The Aztecs defeated Rancho Solano (basketball prep school in Scottsdale), 76-52, Serra (Calif.), 60-56. Red Mountain, 79-70 and Mercer Island (Wash.), 52-50.

Seniors Eric Blackwell and Anthony Irvin have been impressive on the offensive end of the ball.

“Anthony, averaging around 19 points per game, and Eric, with an average of 15 points per game, are leading the way for us this season,” said MacDonald. “Eric hit the 1,000 mark for his career at Corona in our 61-51 win at Chandler Dec. 12.

Both Blackwell and Irvin have committed to play basketball in college next year.

Alex Blackwell is the second leading scorer for Corona with an average of 15 points per game.

“Eric will be playing DII at Cal State East Bay University in Hayward, Calif., while Anthony has committed to play DII at Purdue Northwest University in Indiana,” said MacDonald.

The Aztecs have several other players who have stepped up this season to help Corona win on and off the court.

“We have gotten solid performances from a lot of guys on different nights, including seniors Max Faeth and DeMarco Smith, as well as juniors Roberto Yellowman and Donavon Ocasio,” said MacDonald. “We have also gotten good minutes from junior RJ Richey, who moved in from Illinois earlier this semester.”

The Aztecs will soon have two transfer students able to play.

“We will add some depth to the lineup when sophomore transfers Quinn Thorne and Brandon Lee become eligible in two weeks,” said MacDonald.

Additional players on the team include seniors Micah Raegan, Aric Urban, Osman Ogress, juniors Elijah McDaniel, Talal Hasan and Jeffrey Maurer and sophomore Peyton Bauer.

The Aztecs have 12 regular season games, 10 in their Central Region section, left to continue to improve their ranking before the playoffs.

“Right now, we are going to continue to focus on the process of getting better and staying competitive in an extremely tough Central Region,” said MacDonald.

The Aztecs were scheduled to play at Cibola, in Yuma, on Jan. 7 then a game against Central Region foe Desert Ridge at home on Jan. 10.

Up next Corona was scheduled to play another region opponent on Jan. 14 at Queen Creek. This game against the Bulldogs will be broadcast live on the NFHS Network.

That same week, on Jan. 17, the Aztecs have a home game against Highland also broadcast on the NFHS Network.

Marcos de Niza Basketball

The Padres have won 10 games so far this season but will soon start playing against their five other Desert Sky 4A region opponents.

The team is led by two seniors, Russ Lingruen and Tommy Lingruen, both team captains who have started every game so far this season and are not only the leading scorers on the team but the leading rebounders and shot blockers.

Russ Lingruen leads the team in scoring with 21.4 points, over six rebounds, two assists, one block and two steals per game. He is hitting 68% of his two-point shots and 29% of his three-point attempts to score a total of 363 points along with 105 total rebounds.

Tommy Lingruen, the second leading scorer with over 19 points per game, leads the team in rebounds with an average of close to 10 rebounds a game or 156 total rebounds. Tommy has scored 325 points so far, his senior season, for the Padres, hitting 62 percent of his two-point attempts and 32 percent of his three-point shots.

Tommy Lingruen has blocked 31 shots in the first 17 games while Russ Lingruen has blocked 17 shots. The next closest blockers on the team are seniors Camrion Bryant, a team captain, and Asael Worden, both with four blocks each.

The third leading scorer on the team is Worden, a senior who averages 11 points and almost five rebounds and over two assists a game. Worden leads the team in three-point percentage making 36% of the 45 three-point shots he has attempted in the 16 games he has played.

Bryant along with Worden, are the assist leaders on the team with 40 assists each while fellow senior Ethan Arroyo has started in all 17 games while hitting 63 percent of his two- point baskets.

Jaden Davis, another one of the nine seniors on the Marcos boys basketball team, has played in 12 games where he leads the team in free throw percentage hitting 75 percent of his free throw attempts.

Senior Jaden Upshaw has scored 25 points, 17 rebounds and 24 assists in 16 games while fellow senior Matt Canada has played ins 12 games scoring 31 points with 24 rebounds. Senior Garrett Lamb has played in 13 games for the Padres.

The two junior guards on the team, Nehemiah Washington and Jase Langley, have played in 17 and 10 games respectively. Washington has scored 55 points, 15 rebounds, 27 assists and 12 steals. Langley is hitting 43 percent of his three-point shots.

Sophomore guard Aidan Baker and junior Brennan Hill make up the rest of the team who contribute to the success of the Padres on and off the court.

Marcos was scheduled to play at Mesquite on Jan. 10 and then at Arcadia on Jan. 14. Next the Padres have a home game on Jan. 16 against Poston Butte, at Saguaro on Jan. 21 and at home against Seton Catholic on Jan. 24.

McClintock Boys Basketball

The Chargers have played in two tournaments so far this season where they defeated Fairfax, 80-47, and Carl Hayden Community, 63-60, in the PUHSD Coyote Classic but lost to Sunrise Mountain, Arcadia and Paradise Valley in late November.

The Chargers started strong in the McClintock Holiday Shootout, on Dec. 26, when they defeated Central High School 59-45, but then lost their next two games to Gilbert and Basha.

Sophomore forward and team co-captain Jaylen Wesley leads the team in scoring, with an average of 18.4 points per game while playing in 10 games. He also leads the team in rebounds with close to 12 rebounds and two steals a game on average.

Wesley has six blocks and fix steals but senior Chance Garland leads the team in blocks with 12 blocks in 10 games.

Two seniors, Armani Williams and Garland, are next on the team in scoring, with close to 12 points a game for both players. Both average over five rebounds a game, but Garland, who has 54 rebounds in 10 games, also has 5.4 assists a game to 3.1 assists for Williams.

Williams leads the team in steals with 31 steals in 11 games while Wesley is next with 19 steals in 10 games.

The fourth starter on the team is junior Darius Ward, who has played in all 11 games this season, scoring, on average, 10.4 points a game with over three rebounds a game. Ward leads the team in three-point shooting percentage, hitting 34 percent of his three-point shots making 21.

Sophomore shooting guard Pascal Volz is the next best three-point shooter on the team making 32 percent of his three-point attempts or 15 made shots.

Other players for McClintock who have played in at least 10 games are seniors Aiden Penry, Datron Wilson and co-captain Isaac McCann, along with freshman Ernesto Scroggins.

Penry averages over four points a game with an average of two rebounds and one steal per game while playing in all 11 games, Wilson averaged close to two points a game.

Other members of the team include senior Xavier Bentel and sophomores Keanu Shelton and Javier Bermudez.

McClintock should have a chance to improve its season record during a scheduled matchup at Paradise Valley on Jan. 7 and at Notre Dame Prep on Jan. 9.

Up next, the Chargers have two home games, Jan. 14 against North Canyon and Jan. 17 against Cactus Shadows.

The following week they will be play away games with a 5:30 p.m. Rivalry Game at Tempe on Jan. 20 and a 7 p.m. game at Horizon on Jan. 21.

All four of those games will be broadcast live on the NFHS Network via


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