The state championships for boys high school basketball kicked off this weekend in Arizona with the 1A and 2A finals taking place at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott, Ariz. SB Nation will be covering high school March Madness all across the country in the coming weeks.
The 1A Finals featured two private prep schools with the Orme School located in a remote location about an hour north of Phoenix facing off against Gilbert Christian High School from the Valley's East Side. Orme, an elite boarding school attracting students from all over the world, with a roughly $40,000 annual tuition, beat the Gilbert school (whose tuition is a modest $8,400 per year) by the score of 68-56.
Orme was led by by Metehan Akcam, a guard from Turkey, who scored 25 points along with four 3-pointers. Akcam is part of a starting lineup that doesn't include any American players which has raised some concerns in prep sports circles.
"I think this is probably like a one-shot deal," Orme coach Todd Roe told the Arizona Republic. "I said before, ‘The stars kind of lined up for us.' We've always had a big international population at the school. We just happened to get kids this year that were experienced basketball players."
The Arizona 2A championship was won by another private prep school, Westwind Prep from Phoenix, who defeated Thatcher High School from Safford, Ariz., by the score of 82-63.
Westwind forward Demarquise Johnson, a 6-6 junior, led all scorers with 26 points. Westwind avenged its loss in last year's championship game when it was defeated by Phoenix Scottsdale Christian.
"My goal was just to win at the end, and that is what we did," Johnson told the Arizona Republic after the game. "Last year we were in the locker room, and everyone was mad and upset. This feels great."
Westwind coach Gary Trousdale told SB Nation's Adam Zagoria last week that Johnson could be compared to a young Paul Pierce. Johnson has already drawn interest from several Division 1 universities including Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, San Diego State, New Mexico, Oregon State, Providence and Louisville.
Arizona high school March Madness continues in the coming weeks. Here's the schedule:
3A: Saturday, Feb. 26 at 6 or 8 p.m., Jobing.com Arena
4A Div. II: Saturday, Feb. 26, noon, at Jobing.com Arena
4A Div. I: Saturday, Feb. 26, 4 p.m., at Jobing.com Arena
5A Div. II: Friday, March 4, 4 p.m., at Jobing.com Arena
5A Div. I: Friday, March 4, 8 p.m., at Jobing.com Aren
Games can be seen live and on-demand at AIA.365.com.