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AIA Honors Sahuaro’s 50th Anniversary Championship Team coached by Dick McConnell

(L-R) Pete Manns, Kelly Byxbee McConnell, Clarine McConnell, Rick McConnell, Dave Henry & Jim Ferguson (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) recognized the Sahuaro boys basketball team from 1970 during halftime of the Salpointe/Peoria game on Saturday. Former head coach Dick McConnell guided the Cougars to the first state championship in school history after the school opened two years earlier.

Hall of Fame coach Jim Ferguson also coached Santa Rita to two state championships. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

On hand for the 50th Anniversary were former players Jim Ferguson, Dave Henry and Pete Manns. McConnell’s wife Clarine, his son Rick and his daughter Kelly Byxbee were also present for the half court recognition.

McConnell also led the 1982, 2000 and 2001 teams to state championships.

1970 TEAM: James Blake, Curt Cannon, Dan Ferguson, Jim Ferguson, Mike Gustafson, Dave Henry, Neil Henry, Don Holt, Pete Manns, Robert Montoya, Paul Newton, George Whitaker and Sam Young. COACHES: Dick McConnell, Bud Doolen and Art Learing.

Richard Deane McConnell passed away on April 23, 2019 at the age of 89.

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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