By Brett Manney
Dec. 27, Lone Peak Knights (UT) vs. Mountain View Lions (AZ) (Arizona Basketball Challenge): Lone Peak will travel to Arizona to take on some of the state's finest basketball programs. BasketballPower Emerging Star Tyler Haws looks to wreck havoc against Mountain View. The Lions are well coached and will certainly be prepared when the two teams battle for state bragging rights.
Jan. 3, 2009, Findlay Prep Pilots (NV) vs. Mount Zion Christian Academy (NC): Two Prep schools face off in a nonleague matchup in Lexington, Kentucky. Mt Zion, which is the alma mater to Tracy McGrady, will be looking to knock off one of the best teams in the country. Meanwhile, Findlay will have plenty of miles on their frequent travelers card by then and is not afraid of playing anybody. Texas recruit Avery Bradley is their key playmaker.
Jan. 9, St. Marys Knights (AZ) vs. Desert Vista Thunder (AZ): This rematch of last year's state final will surely be the must-see game in Arizona. St. Mary’s will still have a bitter taste in its mouth and look for Demetrius Walker, one of BasketballPower's emerging stars, to lead the charge against Desert Vista. Guard Josh Lowry will control the Thunder in his senior campaign. This game will be played with a lot of emotion and intensity when both teams collide.
Jan. 15, Etiwanda Eagles (CA) vs. Rancho Cucamonga Cougars (CA): These league rivals meet for the first time after splitting last year's regular season matchup. In addition, last season's games were both decided by four points or less. Etiwanda is coming off an impressive season, one that saw the squad lose only to King, Fairfax and Rancho. These two heated rivals both like to push the ball. Look for plenty of scoring and animosity in California when its tip-off time.
Jan. 16, Fairfax Lions (CA) vs. Westchester Comets (CA): Two of the best teams in Los Angeles clash in what will be their first league matchup. These two teams spilt their games in the regular season last year before Fairfax won in the playoffs. The Lions feature BasketballPower emerging players Solomon King and Renardo Sidney. All early season indications favor Fairfax with the talent returning, but Westchester head coach Ed Azzam always prepares his Comets in one of the toughest leagues in the country.
Jan. 19, De La Salle Spartans (CA) vs McClymonds Warriors (CA): Two of the top teams in the state battle for supremacy in California. McClymonds -- last years' state champions -- returns three starters and one of the most athletic teams in the state. Longtime McClymonds head coach Dwight Nathaniel has stepped down and the Warriors have to move on. De La Salle lost to the Warriors twice last season but are much improved. Transfer and Georgetown recruit Hollis Thompson, along with point guard Brandon Smith, will head a formidable Spartans squad.
Feb. 7, Mater Dei Monarchs (CA) vs. St. Benedicts Prep (NJ): This matchup of West Coast vs. East Coast combines two of the most respected programs in the country in the Nike Extravaganza. Mater Dei has the home court advantage and will rely on its size and five Div. I recruits to keep the athletic Grey Bees off the offensive glass. Mastermind Dan Hurley will try to bring toughness and athleticism to Santa Ana in February.
Feb. 7, De La Salle Spartans (CA) vs. Dominguez Dons (CA) (Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei): The second game featured as part of the Nike Extravaganza will be played at neutral court Mater Dei. Both squads are polar opposites in terms of style of basketball. The Spartans run a similar version of the Princeton offense and will look to slow down Dominguez. Run-and-gun could be used to describe Dominquez, who only lost to City Champions Taft and state champion McClymonds last year. This should be a great game and an exciting event for any basketball enthusiast.
Feb. 24, Putnam Kingsmen (OR) vs. Oregon City Pioneers (OR): Oregon City only had two losses last year and just one to an in-state team (Grant). The Pioneers' biggest rivalry is with Putnam and in last year's two meetings, Putnam played the Pioneers tougher than any other team that came out on the losing end. The Pioneers are the returning state finalist but will have to fight off a pesky Kingsman team if they hope to repeat as league champions.
To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org