Gilbert wins Desper Division
By Bob Corwin
In this third (and final) portion of our Nike Tournament of Champions (TOC) coverage, the Mike Desper (third) Division will be discussed. Gilbert High School of Gilbert, Arizona, defeated Clovis West High School of Fresno, California, by a score of 70-62 to finish first.
The event organizers place teams in various divisions based on a combination of request by team coach, record/strength of schedule and as known, strength of team. Several Desper Division teams could have easily been moved up to the Anderson. Given that 80 teams were in the event’s five divisions (16 each), the assignment of teams to the various divisions was on the whole well done.
Mike Desper Division – limited coverage
As only the final of the Desper Division was observed (played in #1 court at Mesquite High School), it is all that will be discussed. A lack of manpower prevented the naming of an all-tournament team in divisions other than Smith and Anderson (32 teams were covered). There is only so much that a few people can see in five time-slots per day over four days and produce a creditable set of selections.
Looking at final’s action from the Desper Division…
Gilbert High School (Gilbert, Arizona) 70-62 Clovis West High School (Fresno, California)
Clovis West is the defending California Open Division and Nike TOC Smith Division champions but lost five of its top six players to graduation. Still they had last year’s Smith Division MVP in Madison Campbell (5-11, junior, shooting guard) who has been posting 20+ point outings on a regular basis. Gilbert came in ranked as one of the top five in Arizona (now #2) by the MaxPreps computer. Gilbert did have one built-in advantage as their school is nearby and they were able to sleep in their own beds while Clovis West was staying in a hotel (be it a nice one!).
The key to this game was a bad second quarter by Clovis West which saw a 12-11 one-quarter deficit grow into 35-14 at half. Madison Campbell would finish with a game high 32 points but had “only” 10 (of team’s 14) as of half. Gilbert was led by our game MVP Haley Cavinder (see below) with nine for the half (25 for the game).
In the second half, the Californians intensely trapped and pressed. That combined with Campbell starting to catch fire hitting three’s and driving successfully, the lead fell to 51-35 after three quarters and into single digits in the fourth. Besides scoring, Haley Cavinder was largely responsible for breaking through the Clovis West pressure. Down the stretch, Gilbert kept the lead above five. For Gilbert, other double-digit scorers were Brynn Wade (6-1, junior, center/forward) with 11 points and Hanna Cavinder (5-7, junior, shooting guard, Haley’s twin) with 10 points. For Clovis West, Aari’yanna Sanders (5-9, junior, forward) finished with 16 points, all in the second half.
Championship game MVP
Haley Cavinder, 5-7, junior, point guard, Gilbert High School (Gilbert, Arizona)
Haley Cavinder is one of those players who grows on you as you watch more of her on the court. She handles the ball well under pressure and will find open teammates. In this contest, she hit six three-balls on her way to 25 points. She and twin sister Hanna (primarily a shooter) plan to attend college together. Currently they have several mid-majors willing to take both of them.