Jan. 5, 2005 - AHEAD OF THE GAME: Ironwood Ridge High School head wrestling coach Jim Anders caught a rare glimpse in practice toward the beginning of the year as the Nighthawks prepared to open the season. Someone was watching them. The eyes belonged to three curious freshmen who wanted to know if they could join the team. With no prior wrestling experience and the season already underway, keeping the trio would ordinarily prove impossible, said Anders. The fact that they were freshmen, however, stirred up some old memories with the coach. After all, getting plucked right from the street is how he got his start.

While in high school, Anders, then a hulking football player, was recruited the day of a meet. "I asked the coach, 'What do I do,'" said Anders. The coach gave him simple advice: "go out there and tackle him, so that's what I did." After putting his hapless opponent into the seats twice and the scorer's table once, Anders was hooked on the sport.

Now with three freshmen "off the street," Anders can teach them how to wrestle. The trio joins a young Nighthawk squad, already with three freshmen starting on the varsity, led by Matt Peters wrestling out of the 112-pound class.


The Alpha Packers, the Canyon del Oro Little League 9 and 10-year-old team finished third at the recent Super Series Winter Nationals in Peoria. In its fourth game of the day, the Packers fell to the AZ Landsharks of Phoenix, 13-4, finishing the series with a 5-1 record. CDO Little League will have its spring registration Jan. 15 and Jan. 29 at the Foothills Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Ever wonder how a high school basketball team from Canada gets lured to Tucson to compete in an Arizona state holiday tournament? Three teams, two boys and one girls, from 45 miles outside the Toronto area decided to get away from the cold for a spell and traveled to Tucson and Ironwood Ridge High School to compete in the Santa Cruz Shootout at the end of December.

In fact, in Canada they aren't called high schools, they are "collegiate institutes" or "secondary schools." Grand River and Waterloo were the two collegiate institutes making the 2,300-mile trip to Southern Arizona.

Trip coordinator Carl Zender, an assistant coach with the Grand River boys team, said basketball was the perfect excuse for the team to leave behind its "white Christmas" and eight inches of snow, for the warmer climate of Tucson. With dead-on accuracy from the outside, Grand River came out shooting against the Ironwood Ridge boys team in the first round of the Santa Cruz Shootout. Perhaps it was jetlag, but the squad was outlasted by the Nighthawks, 61-51. Grand River did manage wins over Desert Christian, 57-44, and Catalina 47-42.


High school round-ballers who think they've got the same game as Tim Duncan are being encouraged to test their skills at the Ten Star All Star Summer Basketball Camp. Applications are now being evaluated for the "invite only" camp (ages 10 through 19), which will feature players from 50 states and 17 foreign countries. Camps will be held throughout the country. The Arizona camp will be held in Prescott. Past camp attendees include NBA standouts Jordan, Duncan, Vince Carter, Jerry Stackhouse, Grant Hill and Antawn Jamison. For more information call (704)-373-0873.

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