Preview: Independence Thanksgiving Tournament

High School
Arizona

Posted On: 11/19/18 3:08 PM

The basketball season is officially here. Below is a breakdown of the Independence Thanksgiving Tournament. There are a number of teams in this tournament who should expect improved years this season in comparison to last. This should be a fun tournament to watch.

Top Half of Bracket

Kellis vs. Washington

Kellis is still in the process of building but they at least have one piece to rely upon in Daniel Valladares-Lopez who was one of the statistical leaders in every category last season despite his youth. He will be looked to in a much bigger role this upcoming season as the team continues to look to take steps forward.

Washington, on the other hand, brings back a good portion of a team that made some noise last season in 4A. Primarily, the team will look forward to having Jared Smiley back. Smiley is one of the top guards in this group, and he will look to have an even bigger year than he had last season.

Washington also benefited from a transfer this off-season and should be the favorites to advance from this side of the bracket.

Westwood vs. Tolleson

Timmy Johnson was solid this off-season and will look to lead Westwood against Tolleson in hopes of getting this team to a match-up against Washington. Johnson brings back the most varsity experience and success out of anyone in this group. This team will look to him to provide that leadership early in the season while others learn their roles.

While Tolleson will take their bumps and bruises, they should be extremely competitive this year with Shemar Wilson and Jimmy Causey. These two provide the team with plenty of length and skill. While the team will be searching for a guard presence that will enable them to execute, these two will make this tough for the opposing teams in the front court.

Bottom Half of Bracket

Dysart vs. Notre Dame

It will be interesting to see how Dysart reloads after losing so many seniors from last years team. However, Nate Pickens is a 2022 who will look to step in immediately and have success. Further, the team received a slew of transfers. The eligibility of the transfers could dictate the type of season to expect from the group.

Notre Dame is in a different situation as they bring back a large portion of their team from last year. In fact, with the type of competition in this field, they should expect to make a run for to the championship.

They will be led by Skylar Certo. Certo was the top player for the team last year. However, he will have plenty of experienced help with a number of skilled 2019s returning. Further, over the summer, Griffin Bryant returned to action. While there is a lot to be determined in that situation, Bryant brought the team leadership and was effective in the minutes that he received.

Cortez vs. Independence

While Cortez has the luxury of having a couple of their top prospects back, Independence has by far the top prospect in this game in Emad Elniel. Elniel is potentially an NCAA D1 prospect on the wing due to his length, strength, and shooting abilities. 

It will be intriguing to monitor which teams guard play will lead the way as that will be the potential game changer as Elniel needs guards who can get him the basketball in spots where he can be the best player on the court.

Independence is the favorite in this one.

Prediction

At this point it looks like Independence and Notre Dame will meet up in the semifinals. While Independence has the best player in the game, Notre Dame has more depth. Notre Dame will advance to the championship and play either Westwood or Washington.

This is another intriguing match-up in which Westwood has the most talented player of the two teams, but Washington has a little more depth. In this instance, Westwood finds a way to move forward to play Notre Dame in the championship.