The Pueblo West View

Cyclones pull off major tournament

It was a massive undertaking, and while it didn’t go off without a hitch, it generally went pretty well.

The Pueblo West High School boys basketball program hosted nearly 80 teams last weekend for its annual Mid-America Youth Basketball tournament.

“You have to wear so many hats. You’re a coach for an hour, then you’re a business manager, then you’re security, then you’re breaking up fights,” said Pueblo West High School head coach Bob Tyler, who was a tournament director along with Jeff Larson, Rusty Smith and Doug McGraw.

The tournament is a major fundraiser for the program, and while it typically has featured about 45 years in the past, it exploded to 80 this year. By most accounts, it was a big success this year.

“It ran smoother than it has in nine years. We had over 50 parent volunteers at six different schools,” Tyler said.

The event raised funds for new equipment and the team’s travel budget, and it also demonstrated the strength of the P-dub Hoop Club. West’s boys had six teams in the tournament, starting with a fourth grade team and running through high school varsity.

“It’s great to see all those guys wearing the same uniform,” Tyler said.

While the tournament is a big fundraiser for the program, it’s also another chance for the high school team to do the important work of preparing for the next varsity season, which begins in December.

West lost a strong group of seniors which included essentially all of the team’s leadership to graduation in May, and the team needs to remake itself before the next South-Central League campaign. The Cyclones have seen ups and downs this summer as they work toward that goal, and Tyler said last weekend’s tournament had plenty of positives.

“I’m very excited. At the end of last year, looking at what we lost, I thought we could be pretty mediocre this season. But these kids have put in a lot of work,” Tyler said. “Our big guys have all gained about 14 to 16 pounds in the weight room, and that’s going to be big for us. I think our guards can hang with anybody, and our big guys will make the difference.”

West won three games over the weekend, including a win over a Texas team that featured a 6-foot-10-inch center.

“That was a big coup for us. Any time you can be somebody with that kind of size, that’s big,” Tyler said.

There were several heroes over the weekend, and it started late Friday night with senior guard Nolan Maize taking it to the Pueblo Elite club, which features players from several Pueblo high schools.

Maize drained seven 3-pointers and finished with 23 points.

“I was really excited about that game from Noaln. If he could be consistent, he would be a heck of a player,” Tyler said.

West struggled early but tied the game at 19 when sophomore guard Kenny Tack hit a 3-pointer. Tack finished with eight points.

The Cyclones took a 54-51 lead with 7:04 remaining in the game when Maize sank his seventh and final 3-pointer of the night, but the Cyclones never scored another point, and Elite closed on a 13-0 run to win, 64-54.

Tack and fellow sophomore guard Avery Pettway played well all weekend.

“I was really excited about our young guys,” Tyler said.

Junior guard David Arrieta, only a year older but much more experienced at the varsity level, had a solid weekend, as well.

“He’s always pretty steady,” Tyler said.

Junior Billy Daugherty was hoping to make his return from a knee injury. Tyler said he’s only at about 85 percent, so the Cyclones decided to play Daugherty on the junior varsity team this weekend to help ease him back into things. Tyler said Daugherty played well and the Cyclones’ JV won the tournament title in the JV bracket.

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