The Northland Preparatory Academy basketball team head to the 18th Annual Route 66 Holiday Basketball Classic in Williams, Ariz. tomorrow morning. They begin the tournament with a 10 a.m. game against the Williams Vikings at the Williams High School gym.

Last season, the NPA Spartans made it to the championship round of the Williams tournament and were supposed to face the Yuma Catholic Shamrocks. However, the Spartans were forced to forfeit the game due to winter weather conditions that made it too dangerous to travel.

“We want to beat the people we lost to last year and we want to get further than we did last year in the Williams tournament,” said Carson Brubaker, a senior for the NPA Spartans. “We had to forfeit last year because of snow, and that was really crappy.”

The past few days of practice have been dedicated to working on flaws they made in their game against the Grand Canyon Phantoms on November 25. They beat the Phantoms 55-29 but head coach Lorenzo Rodriguez pointed out that they needed to work on rebounding and finishing easy points. 

Rodriguez will only be taking eight of his eleven players – McKenna Nelson (Sr.), Olivia Nelson (Jr.), and Megan Netherton (So.) will not be able to attend due to academic commitments they made earlier this year.

“Sometimes they are late to practice because of class, sometimes they can’t make it at all, and sometimes they can’t go to games,” said Rodriguez. “School comes first. That’s important to me.”

Next weekend, the NPA Spartans will also attend the Pepsi Holiday Tournament at the Flagstaff High School gym.

“The small teams are on one side of the bracket and the big teams are on the other in the Williams tournament, so the championship game won’t be very challenging for at least one team,” said Rodriguez. “All the schools are bigger than us in the Pepsi tournament so it will be more competitive, and that’s good for us.”

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