Perry Basketball: From State Champs To Arizona’s PrimeTime Invitational Winners

By Kavish Siddhartha

For Perry High School, dominating the basketball court isn’t just tradition, it’s who they are. In 2024, the Pumas capped off their season by defeating Millennium in the state championship, making it three straight years as Arizona’s open state champions. 

While the regular season may be over, the No.1 ranked team in Arizona already has their sights set on 2025, recently winning the PrimeTime Invitational summer tournament in Arizona. Perry have established themselves in recent years as basketball heavyweights, but the departure of seniors Don Tinsley and Barron Silsby will impact the team’s new identity. 

“We lost seniors and two starters who started in the final game for us so we have to replace those guys,” head coach Sam Duane said. “We have to replace some bench guys so when you do that and have a new group with some JV guys coming up, you have a whole new identity and everyone has to find new roles. Everyone will be in different roles next year so everyone is just figuring out how they can be the best that we can be.” 

While Perry undoubtedly wanted to see success at the invitational, the priority of the tournament was to build experience and camaraderie with the new team. 

“In the regular season there is more to it and more at stake,” Duane said. “We use summer tournaments to find depth and to look at guys and put the guys into situations so they know how to handle them in a regular season game. So the stakes are higher in a regular season game.” 

Although the stakes aren’t as high as a regular season game, many players use summer tournaments to hone and improve their own game. 

“I just try to work on things that I’m not the best at,” senior guard No No Brown said. “During the summer, I’m just trying to work on things that I feel uncomfortable with during the regular season, so I want to work on the things I’m not so good at so when it gets time to November, I’m a better player and people can see that.” 

While some teams may take their foot off the gas after winning three straight state championships, Perry is more hungry than ever. Winning has become addicting for the Pumas and they believe their best has yet to come. 

“I think winning breeds winning,” Duane said. “When you win, then our guys understand what it takes to win and then they want that feeling of winning. So our culture is very good right now in our program. Our guys enjoy winning and want that feeling again so I don’t think there’s any complacency.” 

Building new team chemistry and team identity is always a difficult task, but Perry has plenty of leaders and veterans who can lead by example and show new players what is expected of them. 

“With the young guys, what I try to do is I get them to play harder,” Brown said. “When they’re coming up they don’t really understand how hard they have to try in practice or in a game so when I see them slacking off a little bit, I’ll tell them and let them know because sometimes it’s better for a younger guy to hear it from a player than a coach.” 

These words of advice from experienced team players are what truly cultivate a winning culture at Perry and separates them from the rest. Perry basketball is all about leaving egos behind and playing together for a larger cause. 

“It starts with coach Duane getting us all ready to play together as one team,” Brown said. “We have an intense focus that he puts on us and we really play together. We have good players and a good coach so we all really like each other, we play together, we play defense, and we play hard, that’s just what we do.”