Hansen’s Top Teams, No. 56: With trio of future college players, Santa Rita broke through in 1999 | Subscriber

A month in the past, Donnie Bunyon, a vital member of Santa Rita Higher School’s 1999 condition basketball championship crew, frequented his alma mater and walked as a result of the Eagles’ getting older locker space.

Bunion took photographs of the ’99 state championship poster, caught in a dusty corner, torn, dangling higher than a box of trash.

Yet another image confirmed a wrinkled banner — State Champions, Boys Basketball, 1999 — hanging over a doorway leading to a locker area plainly in will need of paint and repair.

It was a unfortunate reminder of how some TUSD substantial faculties have been affected by declining enrollment the last ten years or so. A visitor could have in no way guessed that from 1998-2011, Santa Rita’s boys basketball workforce, as coached by Jim Ferguson, was as fantastic as it receives in Tucson and in Arizona.

Ferguson’s Eagles not only received 1999 and 2010 state championships, they completed No. 2 in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Past that, Ferguson’s ideal group might’ve been his 2000 club, which lost in the state semifinals to Dick McConnell’s title-sure Sahuaro Cougars in an epic end just before an overflow crowd of 4,000 at Catalina Superior Faculty.

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Converse about the fantastic outdated days.

In 2000, Ferguson’s club defeated defending legendary large university nationwide champions St. Anthony’s High Faculty in a sport in Delaware. They whipped Paducah Superior College, the defending Kentucky state champions, at the Beach front Ball Common in Kissimmee, Florida, and upset the No. 1-rated prep crew in The usa, Newport Prep.

“I’m not absolutely sure of the range, but I consider we won over 40 straight games versus teams from the state of Arizona,’’ Ferguson says now. “I imagine we would have gained a next straight point out championship experienced not our player of the year, Mark Brown, endured a sprained ankle versus Sahuaro (in the point out semifinals).’’

If any basketball player or coach in Tucson background appreciates what a championship workforce looks like, it is Ferguson. He was an all-city participant on Sahuaro’s 1970 point out title workforce, coached by the iconic McConnell. Ferguson went on to perform college basketball Seattle and UC-San Diego before returning to Tucson, an assistant mentor on Santa Rita’s 1979 state runner-up workforce, coached by Pima County Athletics Corridor of Famer Dave Lynch.

But successful the 1999 state championship stands out as the hallmark of Ferguson’s job.

The Eagles had 3 foreseeable future college or university gamers: Utah Point out beginning issue guard Brown, Fort Lewis (Colo.) ahead Ryan Sonnek and functional Alan Batiste, who had aided California’s Mission Viejo to a state championship.

They obtained top quality help from Bunyon, Brian Grant and Terry Scott, sweeping the point out playoffs with victories in excess of Glendale Independence, Sahuaro, Glendale Apollo and Phoenix Thunderbird.

Not only was profitable a condition championship in 1999 a significant accomplishment, surviving 7 days by week engage in in Tucson was about as difficult as it has been for the very last 30 or 40 many years. Tucson’s prep basketball landscape in ’99 was loaded with foreseeable future school gamers such as Salpointe’s Jason Dickens and Justin DeBerry Pueblo’s Jeff Clark, Mical Kidd, Sammy Wade and Hakim Rasul CDO’s Doug D’Amore and other all-town standouts these kinds of as Adam Eichorst of Sahuaro and Keith Washington of Palo Verde.

But in 1999, only Santa Rita received a condition championship.

If anybody thoroughly appreciated the ’99 title it was Ferguson, who had to pause his head coaching occupation for eight a long time in a political mess created by TUSD directors.

Soon after at the rear of employed as Santa Rita’s head boys basketball coach in 1984, changing Lynch, his mentor, Ferguson was educated he would have to reapply for the posture in 1985. TUSD officials reported it had botched the choosing approach, then dependent on seniority within just the district.

Just after reviewing the system, it replaced Ferguson with Sean Elliott’s former Cholla Significant College mentor, Mel Karrle. Ferguson put in the subsequent 8 yrs as a instructor and counselor at Santa Rita. When Karrle resigned in 1992, Ferguson was rehired as head coach.

“My coaching vocation was taken away for 8 many years for no fault of anything at all I had accomplished,’’ Ferguson informed me in 1999. “I’m dissatisfied I missed out on individuals decades.’’

But Ferguson produced the most out of his next possibility, coaching 16 teams into the condition tournament, winning 10 league championships, and earning seven “Final Four’’ appearances. His job overall of 370 victories might’ve surpassed 500 experienced TUSD not botched the using the services of method, but in the close, Ferguson prevailed.

He retired from coaching in 2011, one year soon after Terrell Stoglin led Santa Rita to the 2010 state championship.

Speak to sporting activities columnist Greg Hansen at 520-573-4362 or [email protected]. On Twitter: @ghansen711