Former EA Holiday Tourney honorees give back

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Kartchner twins Jarrett and Justin were selected to the all-tourney team as seniors. Jarrett was the MVP.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

THATCHER – Several former Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney honorees were on hand at this year’s meets, as coaches, as officials, and one as the person in charge. Their experience and gained knowledge served to instill the same values of a sport and life in general, to the next generation of area youth.

Kartchner twins, both one-time honorees, Justin and MVP (2016/54th) Jarrett of Pima, one-time honoree (2018/56th) Hayden Ashby of Pima, and one-time honoree (2011/49th) and Cale Merrell of Duncan each called a few of the games.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Game official Cale Merrell was selected to the all-tourney team as a senior.

Coaches included Morenci boys head coach Ruben Leonard, three-time honoree and once MVP (2014/56th); Thatcher boys head coach Kyle Hull, two-time honoree (1995-96) and co-MVP (1996/34th); Pima boys head coach Cliff Thompson, and one-time honoree (1989/27th); Thatcher girls head coach Dennis Griffin, three-time honoree (1988-90) and twice MVP (1989/27th-90/28th); Pima girls head coach Roy Corona, one-time honoree (1993/31st); Morenci boys assistant coach Steven Chavez, one-time honoree (1992/30th), and Duncan assistant boys coach Cale Merrell.

Former Thatcher boys coach Kenny Smith, one-time honoree (1975/13th) and currently an EAC counselor, was in charge of the boys’ meet in the absence of athletic director Jim Bagnall.

Boys Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney History

The 2022 (59th) boy’s tourney was the 10th having a Tuesday start and Thursday finish. It was also the 10th time the dates fell on Dec. 27-29. The initial meet also started on the 27th but only ran for two days.

Traditionally held after Christmas 47 times since its inception, the meet has also been held before Christmas 10 times, started before and finished after twice (1997/35th, 2003/41st), and twice held in January (1970/7th, 1975/12th).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Game official Hayden Ashby was named to the all-tourney team as a senior.

Beginning as a six-team, two-day meet with seven games played in 1963, the ensuing 58 tourneys included eight teams with four games each in three days, unless a last-minute cancelation occurred. Sierra Vista Buena defeated Duncan 87-63 for the title after the Clifton Trojans edged the Fort Thomas Apaches 68-66 for third place. Thatcher downed Pima 50-46 in overtime for fifth place.

One championship game has gone an extra period to decide the outcome and another went two overtimes. Fourth seed Thatcher slipped past third seed Safford by three (56-53) in overtime during the 2006 (44th) finale and Thatcher edged Safford by three in two overtime periods during the 1983 (21st) finale. There has also been a three overtime consolation semifinal resulting in a 4-point (57-53) win for Willcox over Morenci during the 1988 (26th) meet.

Six of the 2022 eight participants have accounted for 51 tourney champions. Thatcher has qualified for 36 finals (21-15) with four in a row from 2010-13 (48th-51st), a three-peat 2018-21 (56th-58th), three repeats from 1977-78 (15th-16th), 1989-90 (27th-28th), and 2001-02 (39th-40th), as well as single titles in 1980 (18th), 1983 (21st), 1986 (24th), 1995 (33rd), 1997 (35th), 1999 (37th), 2006 (44th), and 2008 (46th); Safford 20 (9-11) with two in a row twice, 1984-85 (9th-10th) and 2003-04 (41st-42nd) as well as in 1975 (13th), 1987 (25th), 1991 (29th), 2007 (45th), and 2017 (55th); Fort Thomas 13 (9-4) with three in a row from 1992-94 (31st -33rd) and a repeat in 1966-67 (4th-5th), 1979 (17th), 1988 (26th), 1996 (34th), and 1998 (36th); Pima 15 (8-8) with a meet record five straight wins from 1970-74 (8th-12th) and a repeat in 2015-16 (53rd-54th), and the titlist in 2022 (59th); Morenci 10 (3-7), winning in 1970 (7th), 1981 (19th), and 2014 (52nd); and Duncan has finished second thrice (0-3).

Seven other teams have been champions, Holbrook twice (2-3) in 2005 (43rd) and 2009 (47th); Kearny Ray twice (2-1) in 1964-65 (2nd-3rd); Willcox once (1-1) in 2000 (38th); Clifton once (1-1) in 1982 (20th); Round Valley once (1-1) in 1968 (6th); Tombstone once (1-0) in 1976 (14th); and Buena once (1-0) in the inaugural tourney of 1963.

The other finalists were Tanque Verde in 2012 (50th), Hayden in 1969 (7th), and Superior in 1965 (2nd).

Four teams have been in all 59 meets, Thatcher, Pima, Fort Thomas, and Duncan. Safford has been in 48 meets, Morenci in 38, Saint David in two, and Saint Johns in one.

A total of 28 different schools have been represented on the Gila Monster campus. Clifton attended 44, Willcox 41, Eagar Round Valley six, Bowie five, Sahuarita four; Kearny Ray, Winkelman Hayden, New Mexico Lordsburg, Elfrida Valley Union, and Show Low three apiece; Superior two; and Buena, Tombstone, San Simon, and Apache Junction each once.

Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney Team Records

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher girls coach Dennis Griffin was a three-time honoree, twice MVP, and is in his alma mater’s hall of fame.

Twelve Fort Thomas 3-pointers made during the 57th tourney opener against Willcox (Dec. 16, 2919) tied for the second most made by a team. Safford sank a dozen against Willcox during a 45th (2007) tourney semifinal 81-65 win and totaled the second most 3-pointers made in three games (28). The Bulldogs left with the meet title.

Holbrook netted a dozen against Duncan during the 46th (2008) tourney 75-67 game 2 wins and wound up with a 3-game record of 29 as the meet runner-up.

Pima has made the most 3-pointers in a game, 14 during a 42nd (2004) tourney semifinal 61-70 loss to Safford.

The Roughriders have both the most free throws made and attempted in a game, 48-67 against Clifton during a semifinal in 1970 (8th).

Eastern Arizona Holiday Tourney Individual Records

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima girls coach Roy Corona was selected all-tourney as a senior.

Thatcher Class of 2023 member Bradley Curtis tied 13 others with his Round One 30-point effort against Fort Thomas in the 59th meet. He made 15 field goals. Initially, the late Bob Yniguez of Superior totaled that amount, in a Round Two consolation semifinal against Thatcher in 1966 (4th). He connected on 13 field goals plus 4-9 free throws.

There have been 14 participants scoring 30 points, nine with 31, three with 32, six with 33, four with 34, three with 35, eight with 36, one with 37, one with 38, two with 42, one with 43, and one with 47.

Frank Campos of Superior has scored the single game most points, 47 during a 70-72 loss to Kearny Ray in the game 3 first round of the 4th meet. He made 19 field goals plus 9-14 free throws.

Bobby Hancock of Safford had 42 points against Tombstone in the 1976 (14th) title game, and both Ron Bryce and Rex Bryce of Pima scored 42 points, Ron against Thatcher in the 1972 (10th) title game and Rex against Fort Thomas in a 1984 (22nd) consolation semifinal, respectively.

Duncan’s Daniel Corona holds the 3-game scoring record with 104 points notched during the 52nd (2014) tourney. He netted 34 field goals (eight 3-pointers) plus 28-30 free throws, with 36 points versus Safford (67-81 game 3 loss), 31 versus Willcox (54-53 consolation round win), and 37 versus Pima (53-62 5th place loss).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher boys coach Kyle Hull was the co-MVP as a junior and on the all-tourney team as a senior.

Corona’s 36 points on 12 field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 10-11 free throws tied six others, the first being Clifton’s Rory Laney in a 61-78 semifinal loss to Safford during the 12th (1975) tourney. His 31 points tied eight others, the first being Pima’s Mark McBride during the 60-49 game 4 first-round win over Morenci in the 4th (1966) meet.

Thatcher’s Carson Goodman holds the single game most 3-pointers scored, eight during a game 2 first-round 58-37 win over Fort Thomas in the 52nd meet (2014).

The most free throws scored in a single game were 16-18 by Ron Williams of Duncan during a game 2 round one 52-67 loss to Clifton in 1970 (8th).

Three players have been errorless at the free throw line, each making 9-9. They are Dustin Crockett of Pima against Fort Thomas during the game 5 consolation semifinal in 1982 (20th), Darrell Dosela of Fort Thomas against Thatcher during the game 8 semifinal in 1987 (25th), and Gabriel Gaxiola of Morenci during a game 8 semifinal in 2014 (52nd).

*NOTE: All statistics have come off of official available game score sheets.