Warrior Challenge a chance to get a closer look at different teams

Preseason basketball tournaments can give a team a jump-start to a successful season.

It’s an opportunity for teams to see competition it traditionally wouldn’t run into until the postseason. That’s one reason Central has been hosting the Warrior Challenge for 22 years.

“You get to see our valley teams and that is a big part of it,” Central guard Clay Kame said. “You get to see a bunch of different teams, which could help later in the season.”

The eight-team tournament begins Thursday afternoon and runs through Saturday afternoon at Central High School.

Central coach Phil Cain said all the teams there will be looking for the same thing: Effort and conditioning.

“Everyone wants to see how their teams will respond to certain situations,” he said. “But it is early in the season and we realize there is more to come.”

Here’s a closer look at the teams in this year’s Warrior Challenge:

Bear Creek Bears

League: Jeffco
2007 Record: 12-12, 6-4
2007 Warrior Challenge: 2-1, defeated Fruita Monument and Horizon but lost to Grand Junction.
Player to watch: Preston Rayburn, 6-foot-4. Averaged 13.5 points per game last season.
Games: Fruita Monument (Thursday, 3:15), Grand Junction (Friday, 8:30), Central (Saturday, 1:30).
Cain’s call: “Bear Creek is athletic and they like to get up and down the floor.”

Douglas County Huskies

League: Continental
2007 Record: 16-9, 6-6.
2007 Warrior Challenge: Didn’t attend but did play Central last season, winning 80-62 at home.
Player to watch: Jake Kubasta 5-11. Didn’t see much time last season but will move into leadership role this season.
Games: Palisade (Thursday, 5), Central (Friday, 5), Grand Junction (Saturday, 3:15).
Cain’s call: “Douglas County graduated a lot of seniors but they will press, are fundamentally sound and are physical.”

Horizon Hawks

League: Front Range
2007 Record: 6-16, 3-13.
2007 Warrior Challenge: 1-2, lost to Palisade and Bear Creek and defeated Central.
Player to watch: Josh Bredl, 6-6. Led Hawks in scoring last season with 14.6 points per game.
Games: Central (Thursday, 6:45), Palisade (Friday, 3:15), Fruita Monument (Saturday, 10 a.m.)
Cain’s call: “Horizon has a good big guy so they will go inside-out.”

Carbon County (Utah) Dinos

League: Region 8 (3A)
2007 Record: 6-14, 2-6
2007 Warrior Challenge: 2-1, lost to Grand Junction but beat Fruita Monument and Central in overtime.
Player to watch: Joey Keller, 6-1. Averaged 12 points per game for Dinos last season.
Games: Grand Junction (Thursday, 8:30), Fruita Monument (Friday, 6:45), Palisade (Saturday, 11:45 a.m.)
Cain’s call: “They are deep and traditionally have good guards. They like to use a 1-3-1 half-court trap and put some pressure on you.”

Grand Junction Tigers

League: Southwestern
2007 Record: 21-3, 10-0
2007 Warrior Challenge: 3-0, defeated Carbon County, Bear Creek and Palisade.
Player to watch: Justin Trujillo, 5-8. Three-year starter will match up with opponent’s top guards.
Games: Carbon County (Thursday, 8:30), Bear Creek (Friday, 8:30), Douglas County (Saturday, 3:15)
Cain’s call: “Grand Junction is going to be tall. Just keeping them off the boards will be big and keep up the pace.”

Palisade Bulldogs

League: Western Slope (4A)
2007 Record: 12-11, 6-8
2007 Warrior Challenge: 2-1, defeated 5A schools Horizon and Standley Lake, lost to Grand Junction.
Player to watch: Jeremy Hayden, 6-0. Talented junior will see more time and be called upon for presence in the paint.
Games: Douglas County (Thursday, 5), Horizon (Friday, 3:15), Carbon County (Saturday, 11:45 a.m.)
Cain’s call: “Palisade is an unknown, but Coach (Steve) Phillips will do a good job and have them ready to play.”

Central Warriors

League: Southwestern
2007 Record: 11-11, 5-5
2007 Warrior Challenge: 1-2, defeated Standley Lake, lost to Horizon and Carbon County.
Player to watch: Clay Kame, 6-2. Kame has put on weight to make him more dangerous driving to the basket.
Games: Horizon (Thursday, 6:45), Douglas County (Friday, 5), Bear Creek (Saturday, 1:30)
Cain’s call: “Central will hopefully be fundamentally sound and give a great effort on defense.”

Fruita Monument Wildcats

League: Southwestern
2007 Record: 12-10, 6-4
2007 Warrior Challenge: 2-1, lost to Bear Creek, then defeated Carbon County and Standley Lake.
Player to watch: Chance Muller, 6-3. Big body for Wildcats, could make a difference by doing the little things.
Games: Bear Creek (Thursday, 3:15), Carbon County (Friday, 6:45), Horizon (Saturday, 10 a.m.)
Cain’s call: “Fruita has (Alex) Mende in the middle and they usually have a lot of good guards who like to get up and down the court.”


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