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A 58-43 win over old 3A West rival Wickenburg High School on Saturday, Jan. 8, gave Head Coach Darren Gagnon something to smile about after a tough loss less than 24 hours earlier.

The Camp Verde High School boys basketball team traveled to Scottsdale Christian High School, which is ranked No. 2 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, and almost pulled an upset.

Jake Spleiss works his way around the Mayer High School defense in a home game Jan. 4. The Cowboys won the game, 63-25. Spleiss scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 58-43 win Saturday, Jan. 8, over Wickenburg High School.The Cowboys lost 62-50, but Gagnon said his boys played very well.

Against Wickenburg on Saturday, the Cowboys looked a little exhausted having gotten back around midnight from the road trip, then having to turn around and play at 4 p.m. the next day.

“It was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen,” Gagnon said with a big smile. “It was two teams playing crappy. The boys were tired for sure.”

Junior Jake Spleiss turned in his best game of the season, scoring 22 points while grabbing 17 rebounds and the Cowboys were too much for the lowly Wranglers.

“You have to give Wickenburg credit. They played very hard. When you don’t have a lot of talent, you can make up for it with how hard you play,” Gagnon said.

Senior Trey Cooper turned in 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists while fellow senior teammate Shaq Watahomigie scored 10 points and recorded five rebounds and two assists.

Camp Verde took a 15-6 lead after the first quarter of play but tied the Wranglers 20-20 over the next two periods to lead 35-26 heading into the fourth quarter.

Shortly before the third period ended, Gagnon started putting in his bench to give them some playing time since an 18-point lead seemed safe. In the last two minutes, Camp Verde surrendered a few easy baskets as Wickenburg cut the lead to nine.

Down the stretch the Cowboys were 15-18 from the free-throw line, easily their best effort from the charity stripe this season.

“You could see we weren’t crisp from being tired but our free-throw shots weren’t affected. Shooting 83 percent is a big improvement for us,” Gagnon said.

“This Wickenburg team might sneak up on someone someday.”

With the win, Camp Verde improves to 7-9 overall this season. The Cowboys are 4-3 in AIA power point play, which ranks them at No. 21 overall so far this season.

“Having played a tough schedule this year will really help us toward the end of the season in the standings and on the court,” Gagnon said.

The Cowboys were in action again Tuesday, Jan. 11, as they traveled to cross-valley rival Sedona Red Rock High School. Results were unavailable at press time.

Next up, Camp Verde will travel to Wickenburg on Thursday, Jan. 13. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Camp Verde High School girls basketball team made things look easy Saturday, Jan. 8, in a blowout victory over visiting Wickenburg High School, 46-13.

“Our first and third quarter defense was excellent,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Mark Showers said. “We tried to do a few different things and I liked to see the improvement in our defense. We’re going to need it toward the end of the year.”

Shelby Mulcaire looks for an opportunity to shoot around four Mayer High School players during a game Jan. 4. The Cowboys’ early lead gave Head Coach Mark Showers an opportunity to play his second string to boost their game time experience. The Cowboys beat Wickenburg High School on Saturday, Jan. 8, 46-13.Camp Verde jumped out to a 19-3 first quarter lead before Showers began substituting several bench players to get everyone playing time.

The Cowboys led 25-7 at the half and were up 38-8 at the end of three.

“They’re just down this year. They are going through a transition period. I was talking to a few of the players after the game telling them to just keep their heads up, their time will come again,” Showers said.

The Wranglers won nearly 20 games in 2009-2010 and claimed the 3A West region title after beating Sedona Red Rock High School on its own home floor in the tournament championship game.

Wickenburg’s three best players were set to return this season as seniors, but opted not to play in favor of club volleyball.
In Saturday’s contest, Cowboys sophomore guard Amanda Showers led all scorers with 15 points while recording two assists and one steal.

Sophomore teammate Katie Wilson had only two points, but pulled 10 rebounds and had five steals in the win.

Other top performances for the Cowboys included Marissa Flores who scored eight points and had five rebounds while junior center Lila Hickey had six points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Hickey sat most of the second half due to illness, playing only 17 minutes on the night.

The victory Saturday capped off a solid 2-1 week for the Cowboys, who beat Mayer High School on Jan. 4, 59-14, but lost to Scottsdale Christian High School on Friday, Jan. 7, 41-37.

Camp Verde’s overall record stands at 15-3 this season and 7-1 in Arizona Interscholastic Association power point play. The Cowboys are No. 8 in the AIA power point polls.

The 15-3 Cowboys have another tough week ahead. Camp Verde was in action Tuesday, Jan. 11, against cross-valley rival Sedona Red Rock High School. Results were unavailable at press time.

Next up, the Cowboys travel to Wickenburg on Thursday, Jan. 13. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

After Thursday’s road game, the Cowboys will play Westwind Preparatory Academy on Saturday, Jan. 15.

The midseason heartbeat seems to be going strong for the Camp Verde High School boys basketball team after they finished 2-3 at the Alvarez Tire Holiday Classic this past weekend.

Junior Johnny Hudson drives to the basket in a game Dec. 17. Hudson scored 12 points and had two rebounds in the 56-42 win over Payson High School in the Alvarez Tire Holiday Hoops Classic finale Dec. 29.Finishing 2-3 at Bradshaw Mountain High School isn’t the greatest tournament for a team by any stretch of the imagination, but three tough losses speak for themselves.

“It was a good tournament for us,” Camp Verde Head Coach Darren Gagnon said. “The whole point is to get better and I think we did that.”

In their two wins, the Cowboys averaged just over 61 points per game against rivals Chino Valley and Payson high schools.
Against Chino Valley on Dec. 28, Camp Verde took an early lead and never looked back, winning 67-31.

Senior Shaq Watahomigie scored 14 points and pulled four rebounds while recording two steals and two assists in the victory.
Junior guard Brian Hudson had 17 points to lead the Cowboys in scoring and also added two steals.

Junior forward Johnny Hudson had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists while senior guard Trey Cooper had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists.

“Trey [Cooper] played only eight or nine minutes actually,” Gagnon said laughing. “We got up early and I rested him.”

In the last day of the tournament Dec. 29, Camp Verde faced off against the Longhorns from Payson and was able to secure a 56-42 victory.

Watahomigie had 11 points and seven rebounds while Cooper had 10 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots against Payson.

Johnny Hudson pitched in with 12 points and two rebounds while junior forward Jake Spleiss had nine points, eight rebounds and two assists.

“We really competed against these teams. When we compete, we’re tough and always have a chance to win,” Gagnon said.
On Dec. 27, Camp Verde lost two close games. The first came against Fountain Valley High School of California, 60-39, and the other came against Catalina Foothills High School, 74-63.

The third loss came at the hands of Kingman High School on Dec. 28, 53-51.

With the 2-3 record in last week’s invitational tournament, Camp Verde improves its record to 6-9 overall this season.

Some might think a 6-9 record is nothing to be excited about, but the Cowboys have lost two games by two points, and two games by four points overall this season.

“I think we’re coming along nicely. We’ve had some tough losses on the road this year and scores have been close. We’ll keep getting better,” Gagnon said.

The Cowboys played their second game all season at home Tuesday, Jan. 4, when they played host to Mayer High School. Camp Verde beat Mayer 59-40 on Nov. 22 in the first game of the year.

Results were unavailable at press time.

Next up, Camp Verde is scheduled to travel south to Scottsdale Christian Academy on Friday, Jan. 7.

Scottsdale Christian is ranked No. 1 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, which were released Monday, Jan. 3.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Camp Verde will return home to host Wickenburg High School at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8.

The 13th annual Yvonne Johnson Memorial Shootout turned out better than expected for the Camp Verde High School girls basketball team, who claimed the tournament title for the fifth time.

Tori Mathews looks for an open teammate during the first game during the first round of play at the Yvonne Johnson Memorial Shootout on Dec. 29. The Cowboys went on to win the tournament by beating Bradshaw Mountain High School, 44-34.“We played pretty well and except for one game, we played decent defense. We also got good minutes off the bench,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Mark Showers said.

In the first two games of the tournament Dec. 28, Camp Verde beat Seligman High School 50-33 and 51-35.

Central High School didn’t make it to the tournament, causing the Cowboys to play the same opponent twice.

Junior center Lila Hickey scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the first 50-33 victory over Seligman while sophomore Amanda Showers had 18 points, seven steals and two assists. Sophomore forward Katie Wilson had 15 points and six steals as well.

Freshman guard Marissa Flores was the star of the show in game two against Seligman, scoring 13 points while pulling five rebounds and recording three steals in the 51-35 win.

“We were able to get many of our bench players in the second game and I was pleasantly surprised with their performance,” Showers said.

Sophomore Donnie Buss chipped in with 10 points and three steals while sophomore Shelby Mulcaire had eight points and four steals.

“I figured Shelby [Mulcaire] would eventually do some good things for us down the road but for her to play well in this tournament was a welcome surprise,” Showers said.

On Dec. 29, Camp Verde had a battle with Red Mesa High School. Showers stated his Cowboys had a “billion” turnovers, but were still able to pull it out, 55-50.

Hickey had 23 points and 12 rebounds while Buss had six points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in the win.
In the championship game, Camp Verde led 44-22 with three minutes to go before Showers pulled his starters. Although Bradshaw Mountain High School made a late run to cut the lead to 10, the win was never in doubt.

Camp Verde’s 44-34 win over Bradshaw Mountain cemented the team’s fifth tournament title in 13 years of Yvonne Johnson Memorial Shootout play.

Amanda Showers scored 21 points to lead all scores while Hickey had 14 points and 12 rebounds to go along with her four blocked shots.

Wilson chipped in 10 rebounds with her six points and helped the Cowboys finish a perfect 4-0 at their own tournament.
Hickey and Showers received All-Tournament team awards.

With the tournament now complete, Camp Verde’s record stands at 13-2 overall this season. The Cowboys are ranked No. 8 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, which were released Monday, Jan. 3.

Camp Verde was in action again Tuesday, Jan. 4, when they played host to Mayer High School. Results were unavailable at press time.

Next up, the Cowboys travel south Friday, Jan. 7, to play Scottsdale Christian Academy. The Eagles are ranked No. 2 in the AIA power point standings. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.

After his team’s 51-35 victory over rival Mingus Union High School, Head Coach Darren Gagnon said this was the best the Cowboys had played this season.

“We executed our offense. Ran it to a T. In the beginning we got a little lucky and that propelled us in this game,” Gagnon said on the court Friday, Dec. 17.

Andres Orellana passes to a teammate during a home game against Mingus Union High School on Friday, Dec. 17. The Cowboys delivered a decisive 51-35 point victory over the Marauders.The Camp Verde High School boys basketball team hit its first four shots to take an 8-0 lead while the Marauders couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat.

Mingus made only five field goals in the first three quarters of play Friday and Camp Verde took advantage.

The Cowboys led 13-7 at the end of one and were up 28-13 at halftime.

Junior forward Jake Spleiss led all scores with 11 points while senior guard Trey Cooper had eight, helping the Cowboys put away one of two Verde Valley rivals.

“Every kid contributed. I was impressed with our mental focus and with us putting the ball in the hole. It was tough for Mingus to get back in it,” Gagnon said.

Camp Verde outscored Mingus again in the third quarter, 13-6, to take a 41-19 lead. The Marauders made it interesting in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Cowboys 16-10, but in the end, Camp Verde came away with a win, 51-35.

Others chipping in for Camp Verde included junior point guard Andres Orellana who scored six points while junior Johnny Hudson and senior Shaq Watahomigie each had six.

For Mingus, the loss drops the Marauders to 1-6 [0-0, 4A-II Grand Canyon] overall this season while the win for Camp Verde improves its record to 4-6 on the year.

Camp Verde is 2-2 in Arizona Interscholastic Association power point games while Mingus is 0-4.

The Cowboys sit at No. 30 in the AIA power point polls, which were released Monday, Dec. 20.

Gagnon and his group of boys will take this week to prepare for the Bradshaw Mountain Invitational which is scheduled to begin Monday, Dec. 27.

“We’ll practice this week and take some time off for Christmas but we’re all excited about the tournament. There should be some good teams there that will give us a tough test,” Gagnon said.

Camp Verde’s first two opponents Monday at Bradshaw Mountain High School were unknown at press time, but the tournament is scheduled to run through Wednesday, Dec. 29.

In only its second tournament of the season Saturday, Dec. 11, the Camp Verde High School wrestling team looks to be in midseason form, taking first overall at the 17th annual Verde Duals Wrestling Tournament.

“The tournament was an impressive opening for a young aggressive Cowboys wrestling team,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Bob Weir said. “The boys gave everything they had and came out the champs.”

Roman Bux, bottom, a senior on the Camp Verde High School wrestling team battles a Benson High School opponent at the end of the two-day Verde Duels Tournament in Camp Verde on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 and 11.It is the 11th straight time Camp Verde has claimed the first-place prize at its own tournament.
The Verde Duals Wrestling Tournament is the biggest meet Camp Verde hosts every season and this year was no different with 16 teams competing over the weekend.

Camp Verde wrestlers went an impressive 89-31 in their matches during the two-day event and were 7-0 in duals against formidable opponents.

The Cowboys beat up on Tuba City High School to begin the tournament, 78-3, and went on to beat Copper Canyon [66-6], Sunnyslope [44-34], San Manuel [51-19], Cactus Shadows [70-12], River Valley [63-12] and Empire [37-36] high schools.

“Our returning wrestlers, and even our new wrestlers, have an attitude this season to bring back the respect to our program, on and off the mat,” Weir said.

Junior Michael Casillas, wrestling at 103 pounds this weekend, did just that, finishing a perfect 9-0 with four pins to claim first place overall.

Also taking home a first-place prize was 119-pound junior Derrick Brown, finishing 8-1 with five pins.
Brown received the Outstanding Wrestler Award for the tournament as well, according to Weir, something all the coaches vote on throughout the weekend.

Other top performances include 135-pound senior Roman Bux who finished third overall with an
8-1 record while 125-pound senior Daniel Dodge was 7-2 and also finished in third place.

Heath Carroll, a sophomore wrestling at 130 pounds for Camp Verde, took third overall with his 7-2 record and four pin falls while 140-pound sophomore Alex Anzar was 7-2 and took fifth overall.

Also finishing third overall was 215-pound junior Challen Richardson who had three pin falls and was 5-2 over the weekend.

“We weren’t predicted to win this thing,” Weir said laughing. “But our guys pulled together as a team and we came out on top.”

The Cowboys will hit the road over the next few weeks with three straight road meets scheduled to begin Friday, Dec. 17, at the Moon Valley Invitational Tournament.

It is the last meet before Christmas for the Cowboys who will travel to the Joseph City Tournament on Friday, Jan. 7, and Saturday, Jan. 8.

Camp Verde returns home to host a multiple meet Wednesday, Jan. 12.


Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 131, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For all the talent the Camp Verde High School boys basketball team had in 2009-2010, the Cowboys still managed to finish only 16-15 on the year and could never quite put it together.

Junior Deshon Tripp, left, looks to pass to an open teammate in a scrimmage game Thursday, Nov. 18, against Mingus Union High School. Tripp and his Cowboy teammates begin the 2010-2011 season with one of the more talented core groups in recent memory.Teamwork and accountability were constantly called into question last season, but according to Head Coach Darren Gagnon, his 2010-2011 squad seems to have turned the page.

“The best thing I’ve seen so far this year is every kid on this team is committed to what we’re doing. They’ve all bought into the system and they want each other to do well,” Gagnon said in a phone interview Thursday, Nov. 18.

Gagnon went on to say his boys have shown an unselfish attitude so far in the first three weeks of the season, and stated “they all do what we ask them to do.”

Whether this “new attitude” carries over to games this season is yet to be seen, but the Cowboys certainly have the talent to capture a basketball fan’s imagination and turn some heads around in the 2A conference.

Top Returners

Camp Verde will be led by senior guards Shaq Watahomogie and Trey Cooper in 2010-2011. Both should be double-digit statistical players this season in scoring, rebounding and steals.

Watahomogie and Cooper give the Cowboys a one-two punch not many high school teams have at the 2A level.

Junior Jake Spleiss returns in the middle as the enforcer, and is anything but a third-wheel to Watahomogie and Cooper. Spleiss complements the two stars quite well with his stingy defense and inside play along with the ability to guard not only quick players on the perimeter but the big uglies inside.

“These three guys work well together,” Gagnon said.

Two other seniors returning this season are Kyle Neiderer and Daniel Brunner who should give the Cowboys plenty of minutes this year.

As for the junior class, Johnny Hudson returns as a dead-eye shooter from outside while Deshon Tripp could be one of the more athletic players on the court this season for the Cowboys.

Top Newcomers

Camp Verde has a few newcomers as well who have made Gagnon’s squad in juniors Brian Hudson, Andres Orellana and Josh Benson.

Hudson is a shooter like his brother Johnny and although small, Benson does all the right things according to Gagnon.
“He is small, but I like what I see out of him. He’s definitely going to help us this year,” Gagnon said.

The Schedule

Although the Cowboys would certainly have the talent to win 20-plus games in any other season, this year’s schedule is brutal.

Camp Verde opened its season on the road Monday, Nov. 22, when they traveled to Mayer High School. Results were unavailable at press time.

Mayer might be the easiest game on the schedule this season. North Pointe Preparatory Academy is a tough 1A team playing a 2A schedule while Williams High School might challenge for a state championship this season.

After the Round Valley Invitational Tournament, Camp Verde hosts Mingus Union High School, which finished third in the 4A-II Grand Canyon region.

Camp Verde is on the road against Scottsdale Christian and Wickenburg high schools in early January and then travel to Westwind Preparatory Academy, which has Division IV numbers but petitioned up to Division I in October.

Chino Valley High School is always tough and so is Northwest Christian High School, but we wouldn’t want to forget about Sedona Red Rock High School, the most heated rival for the Cowboys.

If there’s one game Camp Verde fans should go to this season, it’s the Sedona-Camp Verde matchup, which is sure to bring plenty of good basketball and tough competition.

“This schedule is going to make us tough. Whether we win 20, 15 or 10 games this season, it will prepare us for the state tournament,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon also talked about his team hitting the road early this season, stating that it will give his team time to bond.

“We only play one home game before the new year. This will give us time to bond as a team, and we generally play better on the road anyway,” Gagnon said.

Next up, the Cowboys will travel to North Pointe Preparatory Academy on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Camp Verde will host Mingus on Friday, Dec. 17, in its first home game of the year.

Down 33-26 with 1:35 to go in the game, the Camp Verde High School girls basketball team looked all but beaten Friday, Dec. 17, but somehow, someway, the Cowboys just wouldn’t quit and won, 36-33.

Donnie Buss drives for the basket during an away game at Mingus Union High School on Friday, Dec. 17. Moments later Buss put the points on the board to put Camp Verde High School ahead by one point ending in a final score of 36-33 in the Cowboys’ favor.“We were down 10 the whole game. We started slow and at halftime we talked about having heart and playing better defense,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Mark Showers said.

The Cowboys found themselves down 12-4 after the first quarter of play and went into halftime trailing 23-12. In the third quarter, Camp Verde outscored rival Mingus Union High School 9-4 in the third period to trail 27-21 with one to go.

A 15-6 run in the final eight minutes of play for the Cowboys earned Camp Verde a victory, but it was the last 1:35 that really surprised attending fans.

Sophomore Amanda Showers, who was 2 for 15 from the field against Mingus, hit a big three-point basket to get the rally started, cutting the Marauders lead to four, 33-29.

Camp Verde got a defensive stop and came down looking to get it inside to junior standout Lila Hickey, who showcased her best drop step to put in a basket, cutting the lead to two, 33-31.

“Things didn’t go well for us to begin the game and we didn’t play with a lot of heart but we came out in the second half and played great defense and got a chance at the end to win,” Showers said.

On Mingus’ next-to-last possession, Amanda Showers recorded a steal, which she dished to sophomore teammate Donnie Buss, who ran downcourt to put in a layin while getting fouled to tie the game, 33-33.

With 30 seconds on the clock, Buss calmly hit the free throw to give her Cowboys the lead, 34-33, and the comeback
was complete.

“At the time, I thought to myself, ‘Let’s just play good defense and when we get the rebound I’ll call a timeout,’” Showers said with a big smile.

Mingus settled for a 15-foot jump shot with 14 seconds to go, and missed, with Hickey pulling the rebound. Showers called his timeout to set up a play to get his daughter Amanda Showers the ball.

“We knew they were going to foul,” Mark Showers said.

Amanda Showers caught the inbound pass, dribbled through three defenders and was finally fouled by the fourth with 0.1 seconds left.

Showers hit both to put the Cowboys up 36-33 and Mingus’ full court heave was nowhere near close as Camp Verde escaped with a victory.

Standouts included Buss, who scored 11 points while pulling six rebounds and recording three steals and two assists.
Hickey had 11 points and 11 rebounds while Showers had eight points and two steals.

With the win, Camp Verde improves its record to 9-2 overall this season and a perfect 5-0 in power point games.

The Cowboys are currently ranked No. 7 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, which were released Monday, Dec. 20.

Next up for Camp Verde, the Cowboys will play host to the annual Yvonne Johnson Memorial Shootout, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Dec. 28, and run through Wednesday, Dec. 29.

After the tournament, Camp Verde is scheduled to host Mayer High School on Tuesday, Jan. 4. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.

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