The 2005-2006 basketball season came to a close last Wednesday with an awards banquet at Maswik. The athletes were treated to a meal and then received awards and accolades for the season.
Girls Assistant Coach Crystal Palmer spoke on behalf of herself and Head Coach Andrew Aldaz, who was out of town and couldn't attend the ceremonies.
"I want to let the girls know that we had a great time this season," said Palmer. "We had so much fun."
She said she was especially proud of the way the team bonded, with experienced players helping the newcomers.
"We had some girls this year who never played basketball before," she said. "And yet they picked it up so quickly with the help of the experienced players. It helped us become closer."
Lizzy Tobin was named most improved in the JV, as was Jessie Wren, who also got some ribbing for falling down in every game, save the last one. She was also named Varsity Rookie of the Year. Kayla Booth was named Most Inspirational.
The most improved varsity players were Megan Timeche and Lindsay Haswood, who was also named Second Team, 1A Conference.
Jackie Wren received First Team, 1A Conference, and was named Most Valuable Player, an honor she shared with fellow senior Kecia Torivio, who was also named to Second Team, 1A Conference.
Ashley Gerber received special recognition as manager.
After the awards were presented, the girls gave their coaches DVDs from three games and bracelets.
Boys Coach Dan Lopez was emotional as he prepared to give the awards to his second final-four team in as many years.
"The hardest part about coaching, I'd have to say, is saying goodbye to the seniors," he said. "It's a tough thing to do."
Three seniors received special recognition not only for their efforts on the court, but also for what they achieved in the classroom, maintaining A averages despite their extra-curricular activities. These were Matthew Beckerleg, Ryne Boone and Chris Streit.
Boone and Streit were also "the two quietest captains I've ever had in my coaching career," said Lopez.
Of senior Justin Kremer, Lopez had six words "Thank you , thank you, thank you." He praised Kremer's academic achievement and speed on the court and urged the group to attend a track meet.
"You need to watch Justin run," he said. "He is just incredible."
Two players singled out for attitude were Eddie Tobin and Jesse Hunter.
"As far as attitude and influence, there is no better kid," Lopez said of senior Eddie Tobin. Of Hunter, he said, "He was a great contributor in practice. He's just an unselfish kid. He played JV and didn't worry about being a senior."
Senior Dennis Booth was named Offensive Player of the Year and named to the 1A North First Team. He was also an All State alternative team selection and will play in an all-star game in July.
Lopez noted that he had also already been offered full basketball scholarships at Yavapai and Glendale community colleges.
To put Dennis Booth's achievements into perspective, Lopez read a letter written when Booth was a freshman and an inexperienced player. In that letter, he expressed his willingness and desire to improve and his promise not to let his coach down all of which he achieved in his high school career.
Lopez also praised his team's freshmen Andre Vasquez, Ryan Petzoldt, Cruz Caballero and Daniel Trenchard who was named JV Player of the Year.
"They played a lot of varsity minutes," said Lopez. "I'm looking for a lot of production out of these kids next year."
Of sophomore Bille Booth, Lopez said "no record is safe," and he dubbed Emanual Webb "the hip hop king of Grand Canyon."
Lydell Talas was not only declared the "prince of hip hop" to Webb's king, he was also named Impact Player of the Year.
Lopez also presented honorary Final Four medals to Mike Hays, who reported on the games, to the bus drivers and to Leslie Martinez who provided much support.
After Lopez wrapped up his awards, his team had something for him, Assistant Coach Greg Walker and JV Coach Perry Smith.
"Thank you for the incredible ride," said David Robinson, as he presented each with a plaque bearing a team picture.
The evening wasn't quite over yet. Before Robinson gave up the floor, Lions Club representatives presented Lopez with a trophy.
The Booster Club received a big nod of appreciation for helping with lodging for away games, for arranging the banquet and "for having the best snack bar in the league," Lopez said.
Also receiving thank yous were Xanterra for providing the meal and venue for the banquet, Terry Tobin for creating a special DVD presentation with video and photos from the season, Delaware North, We Cook Pizza and Pasta, Verkamp's, McDonald's in Tusayan and the IMAX.