This year the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Recreation Department changed the format of the “junior high” boys and girls basketball tournament to the “Eighth Grade and Under Tournament,” which took place February 17-19. The reason the department made the name change was because there were other students participating in the tournament who were ninth-grade junior high and ninth-grade high school students.
For three days, 12 boys teams competed against each other in their division, and seven girls teams competed in their division. All the players worked hard to make it to their championship games. During the final games, there were four teams from the Community and the rest from around the Valley, with two teams coming from Flagstaff. Both Flagstaff teams, the All-Stars girls team and the 8Ball boys team, made it to their division championships in the tournament.
In the boys division, the Bearcats played 8Ball for the championship, with the Bears keeping pace right behind 8Ball for the whole game. The 8Ball players scored points and stayed ahead of the Bearcats once they got their hands on the ball. But the Bearcats fought back by utilizing their speed against their opponents.
“The games were very good, we played hard against good teams from down here,” said coach Victor Toehe from Flagstaff 8Ball. “They know their teammates well.” The Flagstaff 8Ball boys finished 23-34.
In the girls division, the Flagstaff All-Stars competed for the championship as well. The girls had started playing on the same team together just a couple of months earlier, but they successfully dominated the other teams, eventually beating the Bears in the championship game 27-22.