Pick of the Preps


Although this is the final week of the regular season for soccer teams, basketball will take the spotlight today.

Fourteen teams will play at McKale Center for the MLK Basketball Classic, starting at 11 a.m., when the Empire and Desert Christian girls teams square off.

Games will run late into the night from there.

This year's event features one more game than last year's six and should be as fun as ever. Here's a look at three games to watch:

• Cholla vs. Canyon del Oro, boys, 12:30 p.m.

When the two played in the Northwest Desert Classic last month, Cholla junior Julio Duarte put up a season-high 31 points in a 60-55 win over the Dorados.

Since then, he's stayed hot, averaging 25 points a game and the Chargers, ranked 16th in Division II, have won five of their last six.

However, CDO is No. 13 and has won four straight. Senior Nico Hughes scored 18 in the first meeting for the Dorados.

• Mesa Dobson vs. Tucson, girls, 5 p.m.

Tucson freshman Alexis Cortez averages a team-high 15.3 points a game and has scored 20 or more six times this season. She tied her season high in points with 28 in a win over Sunnyside on Friday.

She also leads the team in assists, blocks and steals.

On the big stage, against the No. 5 team in Division I, you can expect Cortez to have another strong outing for the 14th-ranked Badgers.

• Amphitheater vs. Nogales, boys, 8 p.m.

Just like the CDO-Cholla game, this is a matchup between two top-20 teams and should be plenty entertaining.

Nogales, ranked 11th in Division II, has won five of its last six games and averaged 72 points a game in that stretch.

The No. 17 Panthers have won three of their last four and have averaged 70 points over that stretch, so there should be plenty of offense in this contest.