Sahuaro’s 4-0 start to the season indicates yet another competitive season for Steve Botkin, who is in his 28th season coaching at his alma mater, 22nd as the girls head basketball coach.
Botkin is in his 28th year as a head coach overall, including a six-year stint at Rincon/University from 1994-95 to 2000-01.
That kind of longevity with a high level of success has Botkin on the brink of another coaching milestone — his 600th career victory.
He is at 594-188 entering into Monday night’s game at Amphi.
The victory total is the fifth-most in Arizona girls basketball history and the highest amount by far for a coach from Southern Arizona.
“I have been so honored and grateful to be the head coach at Sahuaro for the past 22 years,” mentioned Botkin, also the school’s athletic director. “I love my job and all the young ladies that have made a huge impact on me. I have had the pleasure of coaching so many wonderfully, talented athletes throughout my career.
“Rincon/University gave me my varsity start and I will be forever grateful for them taking a chance on a 24-year-old college graduate. I had some great years there and being able to coach at my alma-mater has meant the world to me.”
Former Highland coach Miner Webster is the state’s leader in girls basketball with 816 coaching victories in 30 seasons. He had a record of 816-154.
Don Petranovich, 33 seasons at Winslow, and Karen Self, in her 31st season at Seton Catholic, each have 780 victories. Petranovich was 780-158 record in 33 seasons at Winslow. Self is at 780-156.
Larry Moore’s 51-year record at River Valley and Seton was 604-384 in 51 seasons.
Botkin, 54, was hired to be the head coach at Sahuaro in 2001, replacing Jim Scott, who retired after 14 years as Sahuaro’s coach.
Scott has the third-most wins among Southern Arizona girls basketball coaches with 333. Mike Dyer, formerly of Marana, is second with 337 victories.
“These years have flown by,” Botkin said. “I haven’t really talked to anyone about the 600 wins except my family. My team doesn’t know about it, and I may tell them when we get to 599 because I would like them to sign the ball for a keepsake.
“I have had an amazing coaching staff that has been with me for several years. My daughter played for me for four years and has been by my side (as an assistant) for an additional four years. My two JV coaches, Jan Boyd and Dani Kinter, have been with me for many years. Our statistician Dave Cook’s daughter played for me over 15 years ago and he has been doing stats for us since that time. Our announcer Chuck Adams has been announcing our games for the last 22 years and goes on the road with us to keep the scorebook. We are a big family. That is what helps to keep me motivated. The camaraderie with the coaches and the wonderful young ladies who we have coached over the years.”
Botkin was selected to the Sahuaro High School Hall of Fame and Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in recent years.
The late Dick McConnell, one of Botkin’s coaching mentors at Sahuaro, produced 774 coaching victories with the boys’ program.
Botkin said when he earned his 500th career win in 2018 that coaching is “more than the wins, it’s the relationships.”
He said he keeps all the notes and cards his players have given him through the years at Rincon/University and Sahuaro.
“I had a young lady leave a note, one of my players, leave a note on my desk and she said that I’m the closest thing to a dad that she’s ever had,” Botkin said. “To me, if I can provide just even a little bit of guidance and help her with her decision making and things like that down the road, that’s more important than the wins.”
LARGE NUMBER OF SOUTHERN ARIZONA FOOTBALL PLAYERS TRANSFERRING
The first week of the transfer portal opening has brought with it many Southern Arizona players moving on to other programs, most notably former Cienega quarterback Jamarye Joiner leaving Arizona after playing quarterback and receiver for the Wildcats. He has one year of eligibility as a graduate transfer.
University of Northern Arizona Transfer
3 Years of Eligibility Left. pic.twitter.com/6cF1Ybi933
— Terrell Hayward (@RealTHayward) December 1, 2022
Joiner’s teammate at Cienega — receiver and all-purpose talent Terrell Hayward — is leaving NAU with three years of eligibility remaining. Hayward played in eight games this season, entirely as a return specialist, after missing 2021 with an injury.
The others transferring as of now:
Former CDO defensive lineman Chase Randall is leaving Valparaiso with four years of eligibility remaining. Randall was not used much in seven games this season at Valparaiso.
I’ve decided to enter the transfer portal with 4 years of eligibility remaining. Thank you to the VU Coaching Staff for giving me the opportunity. pic.twitter.com/HUAo1vt9c8
— Chase Randall (@ChaseRandall20) November 23, 2022
Gabe Levy, another Cienega graduate, has three years of eligibility remaining after playing at the University of Mary, an NCAA Division II school at Bismarck, N.D. Levy rushed for 279 yards on 52 carries with four touchdowns this year.
Ironwood Ridge Class of 2022 graduate Sam Benjamin, a defensive end, is transferring from Idaho State after head coach Charlie Ragle and defensive line coach Vince Amey left the Bengals’ program for ASU last week. Benjamin had 14 tackles, including two sacks, in eight games with Idaho State.
CDO’S DUSTIN PEACE LEADER IN LARGE NUMBER OF SOUTHERN ARIZONA COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
— CDO Football (@cdo_football) December 4, 2022
Canyon del Oro coming a fourth quarter and overtime period at Snowflake away from making the 4A state title game is amazing considering the circumstances.
Dustin Peace, in his 14th season as head coach, turned in one of the most impressive coaching performances not only this year but in the history of high school football in Southern Arizona in a tumultuous season that lasted all the way to the 16-13 loss in overtime to Snowflake in the 4A semifinals on Friday.
Peace, 105-50 in his coaching career, had to lead his team after six starters were dismissed from the team midway through the season for being at an off-campus party that included some of the players drinking beer. The Amphi School District’s zero-tolerance 24-7 rule might change during a school board meeting in April, when a three-tiered discipline approach will be discussed for the 2023-24 School Code of Conduct.
Despite this significant distraction, Peace led CDO to a 10-3 record and pushed Snowflake to the limit before losing Friday.
“The 2022 (team) will go down as one of the greatest teams I have ever been so luck to coach,” Peace mentioned in a statement in a tweet. “The lessons that were learned are hard to find anywhere else in our society.
“To unite against so many obstacles and making so many memories in the process has been inspiring.”
Not to be overlooked for potential coach of the year honors:
St. David’s Braden Davis (9-2)
San Manuel’s Ernie Ivy (8-3)
Willcox’s Eric Hjalmarson (10-3)
Tanque Verde’s Jay Dobyns (first postseason in program history — Dobyns has since resigned)
Pusch Ridge’s Kent Middleton (11-2)
Sabino’s Ryan McBrayer (9-4)
Walden Grove’s Corey Noble (8-2)
Mica Mountain’s Pat Nugent (4A Kino title in first full varsity season)
Marana’s Phillip Steward (10-2)
Sunnyside’s Thomas Romack (7-3)
Cienega’s Justin Argraves (5A Southern title)
Desert View’s Robert Bonillas (6-3)
Buena’s Joseph Thomas (7-3)
Salpointe’s Eric Rogers (7-5 with four of the losses by six points or less, including a tough 14-10 loss at Highland in the 6A quarterfinals — Highland is now in the championship game).
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.