This year's annual Nike Tournament of Champions was a coming-out-party of sorts for Arizona high school girls basketball.
With close to 100 different girl's high school basketball programs from around the country in participation at this year's exciting annual event, and also loads of college coaches and media in attendance, three different Arizona high school programs brought home division titles from this year's event.
In the top division of the tournament, the nation's #2 nationally ranked team, the St. Mary's Knights (10-0), would win the Joe Smith Division championship Thursday night with a 79-69 win over #3 ranked Riverdale Baptist HS (MD).
Top-rated 6-foot sophomore guard/forward Courtney Ekmark continued her terrific play in the tournament championship finish, going 8 of 10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to help secure the win.
Ekmark, an elite high-major division-I prospect, finished with a game-high 26 points in the win, while St. Mary's 5-foot-11 senior guard/forward Shilpa Tummala (Harvard commit) would add 24 points in the victory.
Some scouting services in the country had Riverdale Baptist rated as high as the #1 team in the country before the game, so look for the Knights with this big tournament win to receive serious consideration for the nation's top spot in the national rankings.
Mesa Mountain View wins NIke TOC Desper Division Title
With two Arizona teams meeting in the tournament final of this year's Desper Division Championship, Mesa Mountain View and Pinnacle HS, the state of Arizona was well represented.
With star 5-foot-8 senior guard Arnecia Hawkins (Arizona State signee) sitting the game out with an ankle injury, her younger sister, ultra-talented 5-foot-8 freshman guard Armani Hawkins would take over. Hawkins would finish the game with 14 points for the Toros.
The Toros (14-1) led early, but eight first-quarter points by Pinnacle HS star 5-foot-10 junior guard Sydney Wiese would give Pinnacle (12-2) a 12-11 lead after the first period.
After Pinnacle led at the half, 23-20, both teams would fight hard in the second half. With the score tied at 47 with 22 seconds remaining, an offensive put-back by 6-foot-2 junior forward Jordan Jensen would give the Toros a 49-47 advantage.
Mesa Mountain View would hold on to a 51-47 victory.
Sydney Wiese, who had scored 44 points in a previous game in the tournament and is among the best pure shooters of the basketball in the country, finished with a team-high 24 points for Pinnacle.
Chandler HS wins Black Division at Nike TOC
Chandler HS (10-3) used an 18-5 run late in the first half to defeat Mission Bay HS (CA), 69-56, for the Black Division Championship in this year's Nike Tournament of Champions.
Talented senior guard Simone Westbrook (University of Arizona signee), the younger sister of former University of Minnesota star guard Lawrence Westbrook, finished with a team-high 18 points in the victory. Westbrook scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half when the game was close.
Senior Dezirae Elias also came up big for head coach Zon Thompson and his team in the win - finishing with 16 points in the win. 12 of Elias' 16 points came in the game's first half - igniting Chandler's run and propelling them to the tournament title.
Notes: Desert Vista HS (7-3) also advanced to the division championship of the Gray Division at this year's Nike Tournament of Champions, but would fall to Centennial HS (CA), 69-58, in the tournament's division championship game.
San Diego State signee, 6-foot-2 senior forward Aleiah Brandon would finish with a team-high 18 points in her team's victory.