MaxPreps commemorates Aztec basketball

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Photo by Maria Martin

Written by Andrew Eversden, Managing Editor

The accolades never stop coming for the boys basketball team. On Wednesday, April 9, MaxPreps gave the Aztecs a banner to commemorate its top-10 finish in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings.

“Our guys deserve it,” head coach Sam Duane said. “The way they’ve worked, the way they’ve sacrificed for each other for one common goal. I’m extremely happy for them.”

It is the second year in a row that the Aztecs have received this award from MaxPreps. Last year the Aztecs finished at No. 7, this year it finished at No. 8. The Aztecs have won the last four Division 1 state titles in Arizona.

The team award was only the start of a big day for the Aztecs. Freshman Marvin Bagley III was awarded the Arizona Republic Player of the Year, followed by sophomore guard Alex Barcello with the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year.

After going 125-7 over the last four years, winning four straight state titles and coaching some of the best players the state has ever seen, Duane was awarded for all his hard work, winning the MaxPreps National Coach of the year.

“It’s very humbling,” Duane said. “(I’m) very honored to be put in that select group. It’s something that I will treasure and cherish.”

To no one’s surprise, Duane didn’t take any credit for the award.

“It’s a result of them (the players) believing in our coaching staff and wanting to win,” Duane said. “When the team wins, the coach gets the award. It’s really the result of our guys buying into us as coaches.”

Duane couldn’t emphasize enough the effect that the players have had on his success the past few years.

“It really takes special kids that believe in their coaching staff,” Duane said. “I have the best assistants in the state. We have, not only good players, but good kids. When they buy into a common goal, then you can accomplish a lot of things. Really, all this is the result of them wanting to be a good team and not individuals.”