Photo by JT Keith.
KINGMAN – Imagine playing against an opponent for years and admiring their game. Athletes who go to different schools, but play against each other twice during the basketball season. Because they live in different school districts, the only time they can play on a team together is on a club team, but never on a high school team. The only thing each athlete can do is talk about playing together and dream about it.
Those athletes are now teammates. David Larrabee and Cade Martin have been playing against each other since sixth grade when Larrabee played at Needles and Martin at Kingman Academy.
For the last two summers both Larrabee and Martin used the club team they played for, Colorado River Voltage, out of Bullhead City to fulfill their dreams by baking opponents with their game. With the way they dominated opponents in the summer, one day after a game, Martin texted Larrabee in his sophomore year and asked him what would he think about hooking up on the same team?
Their efforts were so successful that Larrabee petitioned his father to allow him to transfer to Kingman Academy after his brother Reuben graduated from River Valley.
“Last year my team, River Valley, went to the playoffs,” Larrabee said. “But I wanted to play with my best friend. Even though I had to sit out half of the season, it has been worth it. I would have been here last season, but I wanted to finish playing with my brother (Reuben).”
Martin’s leadership held Kingman Academy together after a rough 3-6 start until Larrabee could come back from sitting out half the season because of transferring. The Tigers have lost only one game since Larrabee became eligible and was inserted into the starting lineup at point guard.
“We knew it would be a different team when he (Larrabee) came back. I wish we could have done it sooner,” Martin said.
“It was pretty hard to sit out,” Larrabee said. “But it made me work harder on my game, and my weaknesses. I just wanted to come back and help my team out.”
The two besties have had a dream season, and now it is down to one game that puts their playing days on life support: Lose and their season is over and so is their career. Today they face the No.1 ranked team in the 2A Conference, Pima. The Roughriders are (25-2, 12-0) this season.
Kingman Academy has gone two weeks without a game. Coach Brian Devincenzi has used controlled scrimmages and hard work to keep his team sharp. The last time the Tigers were on the court, they suffered a loss to Parker 74-72 that ruined their chances to go undefeated in region play. Devincenzi wants to make sure his team brings their intensity and comes ready to play.
Pima is bigger and longer than the Tigers. They like to run their fast break. Kingman Academy cannot play soft against Pima by throwing lazy passes in the lane or get complacent with inbound passes. Kingman Academy must match Pima’s intensity on both sides of the floor with all five guys. On half-court sets the Tigers must neutralize their inside game and find a way to match up with the 6-foot-6 Jarrett Kartchner.
Academy wins if they play team ball and all five guys contribute.
“Obviously, if we can beat Pima the first night we set the stage for the whole tournament,” Devincenzi said. “This has been our goal from day one to win state. I don’t start the season with any other goal in mind. We expect to get to state and do well.”
“Pima is undefeated,” Martin said. “It is going to be tough. We are going to have to execute, rebound, and box out.”
Playing high school basketball together has been everything the two of them have dreamed about when they were playing club basketball in the summer. Now they are four wins away from winning a state championship for Kingman Academy.
After graduating high school both players plan on going to a community college to play together in Phoenix. They have offers from Chandler-Gilbert Community College and South Mountain Community College.