Blue Ridge basketball

Blue Ridge 6-foot-9-inch big man Carson Rex applies defensive pressure against ball handler Jordan Salazar of Chandler Arizona College Prep in the Yellowjackets’ 32-28 victory Wednesday night in the White Mountain Holiday Classic at Blue Ridge.

The Blue Ridge boys basketball team surged to a third-place finish in the White Mountain Holiday Classic 16-team tournament last week.

The four wins in the tournament brought the overall record for the Yellowjackets to 13-4.

Chinle 54, Blue Ridge 43

Opening the tournament on the seeding day, Blue Ridge dropped its first game to the speedy Chinle Wildcats.

Carson Rex with 13 points and four blocked shots led the Yellowjacket attack. Jarren Burnette scored 10 points while Nate Padilla with 12 points and seven rebounds and Reid Granillo with four assists were in support.

Rex’s presence in the middle, especially by blocking shots, showed what a presence he was to be in this tournament.

Blue Ridge 47, Yuma Catholic 39

The Yellowjackets didn’t get down on themselves after the opening loss and returned to the floor to beat a strong Yuma Catholic team.

Padilla scored 20 points and Logan Joe had 10 to pace the ’Jackets’ attack. Rex again dominated the inside with five blocks while Burnette led the floor game with five assists.

Blue Ridge 65, Ganado 14

The Yellowjackets started tournament day by running past the Ganado Hornets.

Balanced scoring by Jason Bonito (16 points), Joe (14) and Rex (10) paced the team. Rex also had six blocks and four steals and Granillo had four assists to add to the balanced attack for Blue Ridge.

Blue Ridge 32, Chandler Arizona College Prep 28

In a tightly contested quarterfinal game, Blue Ridge emerged victorious over the Arizona College Prep Knight.

Rex again dominated inside for the Yellowjackets recording seven rebounds and five blocks. Granillo with 12 points and Bonito with 10 led the scoring while Joe had three assists.

ALA Gilbert 37, Blue Ridge 20

The semifinal matchup on Thursday morning featured two 3A schools with winning records. The prize for the win was a trip to the championship game.

The American Leadership Academy from Gilbert prevailed as it built a seven-point lead in the first quarter and a 24-15 halftime lead. The Yellowjackets had a second half they would rather forget as they scored only five points in the 16 minutes.

Bonito with six points and Padilla with four rebounds led the Blue Ridge team.

Blue Ridge 56, Yuma Gila Ridge 39

The third-place game was between a 5A school, Gila Ridge, and a 3A school, Blue Ridge. The host Yellowjackets were not intimidated by the larger school and the lead went back and forth in the first quarter. A last second 3-point shot put the visitors from Yuma up 11-10. The Yellowjackets stayed close in the second quarter and trailed 21-19 at the half.

The third quarter became a different story from the first game of the day as the Yellowjackets came out hot, and on a 3-pointer by Joe in the first 30 seconds took the lead and Blue Ridge never trailed again in the game. A 24-9 advantage in the third quarter made it 43-30 going into the last quarter. The Yellowjackets pulled away in the fourth for the victory and the third-place trophy.

Joe led all scorers in the game with 20 points and Nate Padilla chimed in with 17. Rex again dominated in the middle with five rebounds and two blocks to go with his game-high four assists.

For his efforts, Rex made the all-tournament team. Winning the third-place trophy was very satisfying for coaches Janet and Craig Rex.

The Marana Tigers defeated the ALA Tigers from Gilbert 76-64 to become the 2021 White Mountain Holiday Classic champions.

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