The defending 5A state champion Mavericks will play in the 19th annual Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. Games begin Friday and run through Tuesday.
“I think they are excited to test their skill against other girls around the nation,” coach Connie Skogrand said.
The field includes 96 girls basketball teams from 21 states, including defending California Open Division state champion and consensus national preseason No. 1 St. Mary’s of Stockton.
More than 1,100 athletes will compete in 192 games over four days for six divisional titles.
This is Mountain View’s first appearance in the tournament, although the Mavericks were invited last season. Skogrand said it took a huge fundraising effort to send all 12 varsity players to the tournament.
“That’s really what holds you back is the finance part of it,” Skogrand said. “I had so many kids returning from last year’s team and all the parents were on board for it, so I said, ‘OK, we’ll go.’ I told them they would have to be a part of it, more than they’ve ever had to fundraise. They jumped on board, and now we’re heading to Phoenix.”
ROCKY FOOTBALL RECOGNIZED
The Grizzlies were selected as an honoree for the 11th annual MaxPreps Football Tour. The 5A state champions, which were one of just 50 teams chosen from more than 17,000 high schools, will be presented with a trophy Jan. 29.
▪ In the CBS MaxPreps Top 150 Computer Football Ratings released this week, Rocky Mountain is No. 65 and Mountain View is No. 136.
3A PLAYOFFS CUT TO 12 TEAMS
The Idaho High School Activities Association board of directors approved a 12-team football playoff bracket for 2016, allowing 3A to follow in the footsteps of the 12-team 5A and 4A playoffs.
The brackets passed the IHSAA board as a first reading. It’ll need to pass the board again to become official.
Fifteen 3A teams qualified for the playoffs this fall, including 2-6 Filer and 2-6 Weiser. Only six 3A teams did not reach the playoffs.
Three two-win teams qualified for the postseason in 2014 and ’13, and a 1-7 Kellogg squad made it in 2012.
“I’ve heard it for years — 16 is too many, 16 is too many,” said IHSAA Executive Director Ty Jones, who said the brackets were proposed by the state’s coaches. “... I think they finally looked at it and said after so many years, ‘We’re sending a 1-7 team over to Shelley or some school where they’re going to lose by 50. Why are we doing that? That’s $1,500 in a bus and travel and all those type of things.’
“Sixteen, or 15 in this case, that’s just too many teams.”
The smaller bracket will cut the Snake River Valley’s guaranteed playoff spots from five to three. The district champ, along with the district champ from Pocatello, northern Idaho and Twin Falls, all receive byes into the quarterfinals.
A fourth Snake River Valley team can compete for the single at-large berth available to teams across the state. Fruitland coach Ryan Tracy said a committee made up of one representative from the five 3A leagues will pick the at-large team. But who will sit on that committee has not been determined.
The 2A playoffs remain as Idaho’s only 16-team bracket.
Also from the IHSAA meeting in December:
▪ The board approved expanding the 3A regular season from eight football games to nine games as a first reading.
▪ The board approved altering the 8-man mercy rule as a first reading. Previously, the running clock didn’t kick in until a 40-point lead after halftime. The approved change will allow it to start in the first half, but the game can’t be called off until at least a half is played.
CAPITAL, WENDELL ATHLETES HONORED
Hannah Spero of Capital and John Lancaster of Wendell were named state winners of the 2015 Wendy’s High School Heisman. The program honors high school seniors who are well-rounded students, excelling in the classroom, on the field and in the community.
EAGLE OL TO PLAY IN INTERNATIONAL BOWL
Six-foot-3, 290-pound Maxim Moore was chosen for the U.S. Under-17 national team, which will compete against Canada in the International Bowl on Feb. 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Moore, who just wrapped up his junior season at Eagle, is one of 59 football players chosen for the team. Quarterback Byron Leckington of Shelley also will play in the game.
ROCKY GOLFER COMMITS TO OKLAHOMA
Sam Tidd, a sophomore at Rocky Mountain, committed to play golf for Oklahoma. Last spring, Tidd — who will graduate in 2018 — helped the Grizzlies finish second at the 5A state tournament.