Family, Faith Driving Chaparral’s Top ‘Bird

Colten Kresl jogs out of the tunnel and takes his place in the middle of the Chaparral Firebirds’ lay-up line.

The stoic, 6-foot senior rubs the palms of his hands together before taking a bounce pass and casually gliding in for a layup.

A few minutes later Kresl steps through the small human tunnel of teammates slapping five as his name is announced as one of Chap’s starting guards.

Shortly thereafter the whistle blows, the ball is tossed and Kresl’s basketball switch is powered on.

“He has a fire,” Firebirds’ head coach Dan Peterson said of his starting point guard to “He wants to go out there and compete and play the best he can every time…the other guys see that and they feed off that.”

Kresl’s “fire” for the game comes from a family tree of basketball standouts and an internal motivation for one whose career was cut short far too early. His older brother Logan was diagnosed with brain cancer at age seven.

“He used to play basketball and he loved it more than anything,” the four-year varsity letterman Kresl said to of his older sibling. “I was really young when it happened but he stuck through it. He watches all my games. He tells me what I do wrong and what I do right.”

What Kresl has done right is well, everything.

His scoring average year-to-year has climbed as consistently as a thermometer in the Phoenix summer. Through 13 games for the 11-3 ‘Birds, Kresl is averaging around 20 points per contest. He poured in 38 in a double-overtime loss to top-ranked Sunnyslope and was also named the MVP of the Paradise Valley Invitational. He scored 22 points Friday against perennial power Corona del Sol.

Now he’s hoping to join his mom Julie (TCU) and older sister Lexy (Colorado) as Kresl college basketball players. Jack Murphy and NAU has already offered and there is interest from several others as Colten’s game continues to evolve into 2017.

“It’s really heating up right now,” he said. “I’m talking to UNLV. I’m talking to Boise State. I’ve also talked to Sacramento State and GCU.”

One college coach described him as “a very confident player.”

A confidence which was strengthened by countless hours working on his game and more importantly, a family bond much bigger and deeper than basketball.