Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 | 1:14 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer are back after a three week break, arguing whether or not home court advantage in high school basketball actually gives the home team an advantage.
Beyond the Sun
Coronado High School basketball coach Jeff Kaufman didn’t have to think twice when officials from Findlay Toyota contacted him with an intriguing offer.
The highly anticipated game between powers Findlay Prep and Bishop Gorman, which the dealership sponsors annually, is blossoming this winter into an all-day event, and they wanted to include some Las Vegas-area public schools in what’s being billed as a celebration of local basketball.
Coronado and Foothill, rivals in the Henderson-based Southeast Division, were invited to play one of their two regular-season games before the Findlay-Gorman tilt. Kaufman immediately said yes.
The Big City Showdown on Jan. 21 at Cox Pavilion was finalized Tuesday. It will feature three games and a slam dunk contest, naturally highlighted by a rematch of last year’s Findlay-Gorman thriller that will be televised by ESPNU. Last year, it was a standing room-only crowd in the 2,500-capacity Cox Pavilion to watch Findlay prevail on a last-second shot in double overtime.
“Our kids will be fired up. It’s such a great opportunity for them and something they will never forget,” Kaufman said.
The showdown starts at 10 a.m. with a matchup of two California schools — Ribét Academy and St. Bonaventure High. Coronado and Foothill play at noon, and Findlay and Gorman close the high school portion of the day at 2 p.m. At 7 p.m., UNLV hosts New Mexico at the Thomas & Mack Center, creating a great recruiting opportunity for the Rebels.
UNLV is actively pursuing several players from Gorman and Findlay, including prized prospects Shabazz Muhammad of Gorman, and post players Anthony Bennett and Matthew Willms from Findlay. Also, Findlay junior Christian Wood is verbally committed to UNLV, while Gorman’s Demetris Morant in November signed with the Rebels. Point guard Tyler Dorsey of the Ribét Academy is one of the top prospects for the class of 2015.
Per NCAA rules, there has to be a two-hour window between the end of the showdown and the start of the UNLV game, resulting in the non-traditional early start.
“We have the utmost respect for Bishop Gorman and the way they play the game,” Findlay coach Mike Peck said. “Shabazz will be a challenge our team has been anticipating. Another matchup versus Gorman at the Cox Pavilion has all the makings of a legendary high school basketball game.”
Coronado and Foothill were scheduled to play Jan. 10 at Coronado, but neither coach had any reservations about moving the game to a bigger venue.
“It’s going to be a great experience for them,” Foothill coach Kevin Soares said. “They get to play where UNLV sometimes practices and in front of a nice crowd. We are going to make sure our kids understand it is another league game we have to win. We have to go in and take care of business.”
Tickets went on sale Tuesday at UNLVtickets.com and at the auto dealership. Prices are $15 to $30 — $10 for students.