Santa Cruz vs. Superior 12/27/21

Santa Cruz guard Sean Voss brings the ball up the court past head coach George Courtney on Monday against Superior.

ELOY — New Santa Cruz Valley basketball coach George Courtney has already made quite an impression in his short time at the helm in Eloy. Not only is he attempting to make the boys basketball program a winner, but he is also shining a spotlight on Eloy, bringing sports, community and hospitality to the city.

Courtney started out his coaching career as an assistant with the Dust Devils, but now, with him at the helm, the Santa Cruz New Year’s Shootout was the first time the Eloy school ever hosted a basketball tournament.

With some big talent from Yuma, Tucson and Phoenix coming together for some friendly competition, Courtney said that the entire event was an awesome experience for all who took part.

“It’s great, I had a lot of compliments on our campus, so it was really nice,” Courtney said. “The visiting coaches were able to see our auxiliary gym, grab a bite to eat and share my culture. This is our home, and we wanted to share our home with everyone. I think this is a great way to kind of kick off the new era.”

For Courtney, the tournament was not just about competition, it was about bringing people together to have a good time.

“It was great to have people from around the state come out and see what we have to offer,” Courtney said. “We also had some scouts come out and get a chance to see some of these kids who could play at the next level, Arizona is a hot bed for basketball.”

Although on the floor, the Dust Devils still had a lot of work to do, they did collect their first win of the season, beating Superior 62-31. Courtney said the team is coming around, and that they will continue to build the foundation for the program.

“I think my guys are really starting to buy in,” Courtney said. “They are great kids, they are very coachable, the clay is there, and they want to be molded. We are going to continue to get more competitive year in and year out. Rome was not built in a day, and I think we are right there.”

With the Dust Devils' program still searching for success, they can walk away from the New Year’s Shootout knowing that themselves, along with the entire city of Eloy, were well represented.

Pinal County boys basketball.

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David Church is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. He can be reached at dchurch@pinalcentral.com.

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