After weather delays and coordination, 17 seniors across three Flagstaff High School teams celebrated Senior Night together as one big sports family.

The Flagstaff High School sports community wasn’t about to let multiple weather delays keep one of their teams from celebrating Senior Night.

Coaches, parents, players and Athletic Director, Jeannine Brandel, all rallied against schedules, regulations and the elements to ensure the six boys basketball seniors got their night of recognition.

All in all, 17 seniors across the boys and girls basketball teams and the cheerleading squad all shared the spotlight for this important moment.

"I've never seen such a large group recognized before, but I thought being able to celebrate everyone together was pretty great," said FHS Cheer Coach, Jett McReynolds.

"We did not feel left out of the spotlight at all during the event. We love to cheer on and support both teams, and so having them there to celebrate our own senior night with us made the event so much bigger and brighter. Our intention was always to celebrate cheer's senior night at the same game as one of the basketball teams to really show and embrace that sense of community, and so I think that this worked out wonderfully,” McReynolds said.

“Senior Night, to me, is very, very important for the boys,” boys basketball head coach Martin Reyes said.

“As we find out through life, everything's about your body of work,” Reyes continued. “Senior Night is a culmination of their body of work in basketball for the last four years. I always like to tell the boys; this is the best four years of your life until you move on to the next four years. And I think that is what this Night is about."

Reyes credited Brandel and the "village" for making Senior Night possible against the odds.

“It definitely took the whole village this time," Reyes said, noting that it wasn’t a sure thing, even hours before the event.

"Everybody recognizes how important it is for seniors to get their time and moment to do this. And it took the village to make it happen. Everyone did their piece of the puzzle,” he said.

The ceremony marked an emotional night for Reyes in his first season coaching the Eagles. He fondly reflected on getting to know this year's senior class over the past four months.

“I met many of these boys for the first time four months ago,” Reyes said. “Senior Night is different when you've been in a community for a long time, like I was at Coconino High School. But four months ago, I was brought into the Flagstaff High School basketball community. And in those quick four months, you have to build relationships. You have to get these young men to trust and believe in where you’re taking them – personally and in basketball. So, to celebrate this time with them, for me, was special. I remember all my senior nights, but this one was really special.”

Reyes discussed each of his six seniors — Bert Saxton, Jake Centner, Camden Hagerman, Ethan Laughing, Connor O’Brien-Piubeni and Zach Biah — in detail, highlighting their personalities on and off the court. He described the group overcoming interpersonal challenges to build trust on the floor during a season that saw the Eagles finish second in their region.

There's more to a moment than meets the eye.

While photographs can capture smiles and game highlights, Reyes said they fail to fully encapsulate the camaraderie this group built through long bus rides, locker room bonding and the shared commitment to improve.

“They enjoy the battle. They enjoy the commitment and the struggle and the challenge to become a basketball team," he said. "They understand that this is one of the ways that shape themselves with life skills that basketball teaches you to use later in life."

As Reyes implements his vision in Year One, he already feels immense pride in how this senior class embraced him and his staff. The foundation has been set for the Eagles to establish consistency and bring players together across levels.

Most of all, the head coach hopes he and his staff have helped equip these young men for whatever lies ahead.

"It’s important for the players to understand that what we’re doing isn’t just from a basketball perspective. Their overall success in life is very important to me," Reyes emphasized.


Note from Sean: At this point in my conversation with Coach Reyes, I asked him to tell me a little about each player and what he hoped for them as they transitioned to the next phase of their lives. I started summarizing what Coach Reyes said about each player, but the words were too meaningful to edit out.


Below is the transcript from each player with minimal editing for punctuation and grammar.




“Bert Saxton is a quiet giant," said Coach Reyes. "He's a six-foot-six kid, kind of quiet and very coachable. He works hard. He shows flashes of the basketball player that he can be. I think Bert is one of those kids everybody likes. He likes everybody, and he has a great personality.


"That's going to do him well in life. He can connect with people at many levels. I wish him the best. He'll go on to be very well-educated because he's a smart kid.


"I loved coaching him on the basketball floor. I really did. He worked extremely hard for me and was great to coach. He had his first dunk in a game at Bradshaw Mountain. That was awesome to see.


"I think Bert has the world as fingertips. All he has to do is go out and take what he wants."


What did Senior Night mean to you?


"Senior night was great. It was amazing to have the opportunity to go through that and be recognized for being in the program for the last four years," said Bert.


When you look back at this moment, years from now, what do you hope you never forget?


"One thing I hope I never forget are the connections and the hopefully lifelong friends I made through basketball," said Bert.


How has the FHS basketball program influenced who you are?


"The FHS basketball program influenced who I am in many ways," said Bert. "But I would say the most impactful influence it had on my life, and the most impactful influence it will continue to have on my life is that it taught me discipline and work ethic."




"Jake. What a very respectful and nice young man Jake is. Not that all the players aren't, but he's very open and receptive to suggestions and ideas. I think one thing about Jake that parlays very well is he is a student of the game," said Coach Reyes, who added that Jake is also one of three Team Captains this year.


"He is a student of life. He tries. He understands and works at the game at a different level. He really does. He breaks down films. He knows other players' tendencies.


"He's another coach on the floor because he sees things. He understands things, and he really works hard, and he's able to get the other players to go along. I think one day, honestly, if he chose to be, Jake would be a great basketball coach.


"With his knowledge and his passion – he's always working. He's constantly working to be better at the game. When you have a player who is a student of the game, that's what makes my life easy.


"I've enjoyed my time with Jake. I've enjoyed our conversations. He comes into the gym on his own time. He gets shots up while I'm doing other stuff in the office, and then we'll hang around, talking hoops, talking life.


"Those are some of the things that I definitely have cherished this year.


"Jake's going to have a great career in college. I want him to have a great career. I want him to go out there and be the basketball player we know he is. I hope he gets a degree in what he's passionate about. And I hope he continues to be involved and active in the game of basketball.


"I know we talked about the excitement of Bert's first dunk, but with Jake, we just wait for him to dunk in a game. We all know it's going to happen. We're used to it. It's just a thing he does. But that's just as exciting to see."


What did Senior Night mean to you?


"Senior night meant a lot to me since we got our regular game senior night canceled. It was nice to still be honored for making it all the years," said Jake.




"Camden, oh man. The words that come to my mind when I think of Camden are always smiling, high energy, just an all-around good young man," said Coach Reyes.


"Camden is naturally gifted. He is such a gifted athlete from the basketball floor to the tennis court.


"I'm sure if he wanted to play baseball or lacrosse, he'd be successful. He's always happy, always high energy. He's the kid that if we're dragging as a team or we don't have energy - Camden doesn't let that happen.


"Camden brings energy. He encourages everybody to be better. He's just a spark plug. He goes and goes and goes. He does what's asked.


"I remember Camden left for a weekend to go compete in tennis. I know he doesn't take playing tennis lightly. He's very competitive, and he plays hard. I know he must have been exhausted on Monday night. But we asked him to guard one of the best offensive players in Arizona. He went out there and gave us everything he had because that's who he is.


"He gets it done in the classroom. He gets it done on the basketball court. He balances being a very good basketball player with being a very, very good tennis player. He keeps his focus on both sports and excels in both.


"Camden is contagious. He is super contagious. He exudes energy. Some guys will not be happy with themselves because they may not have performed well in a drill. Something didn't go as planned in practice. Cam is there to pick them up, talk them through it and get them ready to go.


"I never have to worry about Camden. When we need somebody to run out and do something, Cam is the first guy out.


"I hope he continues to play tennis since he exceeds and does so well in tennis. I hope he finds time to keep playing basketball. When he's on the basketball floor, you can tell he loves to play, and it comes naturally. I hope he maintains his high academic standards and finds his path – which he probably already knows. He's going to be great at what he does."


What did Senior Night mean to you?


"Senior night was super cool because I got to think about all my previous years playing sports," said Camden.


When you look back at this moment, years from now, what do you hope you never forget?


"I hope I never forget playing in the Suns Arena," said Camden.




“Ethan Laughing is a very quiet young man. His actions definitely speak louder than his words. At the same time, he's not afraid to voice his opinion," said Coach Reyes.


"The first time I met Ethan was on the interview panel when I interviewed for the job as Head Coach.


"So, that tells me right there the kind of respect he has in the Flagstaff High School community. They don't let just anyone on a panel like that.


"Ethan is another young man who is a great student.


"He wants to get into the medical field. As soon as basketball's over, I know he's going to Coconino Community College and working to become a doctor.


“His demeanor, caring nature and desire to care for others make nursing a great fit for him. With his personality, actions are his powerful words.


"On the court, he hits shots and is a great defensive player. He has great basketball sense, and his savvy is high. He has great basketball knowledge, and the game comes to him naturally. Those things impact him and those around him.


"In the offense, we run a pass to the baseline where all the bigs live. And Ethan is always open because Ethan plays hard all the time. It doesn't matter who's there. He goes to where he's got to go with a purpose. That sets the tone for everyone else. If you play hard and work hard, you'll make your own opportunities to succeed.


"I hope that Ethan continues on his path and continues to blossom. As he gets to the next young-man stages, his natural caring ability will pay huge dividends in the medical field.


"He's able to communicate and ask questions that need to be asked. He has the attention to detail needed in that field to ensure people get the things they need to get well. He has a very likable demeanor. He is easy to talk to, easy to get along with, and he'll bring comfort to the people he helps.




"I love Connor," said Coach Reyes. "Connor is the guy nobody likes to play against because he has a very good basketball game. But Connor's also got a comment for everything on the basketball floor when you're playing against him.


"He plays with great energy. He plays with great confidence. He's worked hard to be able to do that. It's like he's got a motor. He does not stop on the offensive end or the defensive end.


"I know he had a slow start this year due to an ankle injury and sickness. But, once he got rolling, he was an offensive and defensive threat for us on the floor. He was a senior leader. He was one of our Team Captains.


"People have to stop and account for Connor when he's on the floor. So, that's been great. Connor is coachable. He asks questions. He looks for extra time in the gym to work on his game.


"One of the things he says all the time is, 'running don't bother me, Coach. Let's run some more.' He's high energy all the time. He's always clapping, and the team can't help but join in.


"I hope we find a place for him in college to continue playing basketball. I think he can help a team at the next level. He's got the skill set to do that – to play at the next level. And we'll continue to look for a place for him to do that this fall. That will help continue his academic journey. He's a good student and can use basketball to get his degree to further his life."


What did Senior Night mean to you?


"Senior night meant a lot to me. I've been playing basketball my entire life, but Senior Night felt a lot less important because we didn't get to play a game during our senior night," said Connor.


When you look back at this moment, years from now, what do you hope you never forget?


"I hope to always remember and never forget the fun times with my friends and the hard lesson I learned through playing basketball on the team," said Connor.


How has the FHS basketball program influenced who you are?


"Basketball in general has influenced me throughout my entire life," said Connor. "I spent my whole life playing the game, so it has a lot of meaning to me, not just the game but the memories and friends met around it," said Connor.




"When I think of Zach Biah, I think of a kid who's grown into a committed young man," said Coach Reyes. "He shows up, and he works hard. When the chips are down and things aren't going his way, he keeps the path. It actually makes him even more focused on staying on the path.


"He takes care of his mother. Life hasn't always been easy for Zach.


"I think Zach just understands the importance of education. He understands the important commitments you have to make and keep.


"He's a cross-country runner, and he's made the State Tournament multiple years. He's made the Varsity basketball team for multiple years. He's a distance runner on the track and field team. He's one of those kids who just exudes toughness. He's just a tough kid.


"You see kids all the time who think life is hard but don't know. And, of course, they are the first ones to tell you how rough they have it.


"Zach knows, but you'd never hear it from him. He keeps working and grinding, and he's always got a smile on his face. He's always asking questions, trying to improve himself and his game.


"I think the other players appreciate Zach's attitude. Kids appreciate it when somebody works hard.


"Zach's the young man who hasn't played a lot of minutes for us this year, but he will guard the heck out of you in practice so that you're ready for the next game. He makes sure we're ready as a team to be better.


"The team recognizes that, and they appreciate that. They know they owe it to Zach to play hard in games because he's working so hard at practice. You hear players complain when they don't get game time, but Zach doesn't see it like that. He's there to work hard no matter what.


"I hope Zach runs cross country at the next level and he continues his education. I hope there's a place for him to use his athletic ability to get the education he wants.


"Zach's a fighter. He's tough. So, I'm sure he will find a path to school and anywhere else he wants to be successful."

See photos from fHS boys basketball and senior night

2024 FHS Senior Night photos

Karl Mullings

Click the above link to see images from the 2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night, where 17 seniors were celebrated on Feb. 6, 2024.

2024 FHS Boys Basketball photos

Sean Openshaw

Click the above image to see and order prints from the 2024 Flagstaff High School boys basketball team photography.

Jake Centner 2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night program page.
Camden Hagerman 2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night program page.
Robert "Bert" Saxton 2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night program page.
2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night program page roster.
Zach Biah 2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night program page.
2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night boys basketball program cover.
Connor O'Brien-Piubeni 2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night boys basketball program page.
Ethan Laughing 2024 Flagstaff High School Senior Night boys basketball program page.
Robert "Bert" Saxton 2024 Flagstaff High School boys basketball banner by Sean Openshaw Photography.
Camden Hagerman 2024 Flagstaff High School boys basketball banner by Sean Openshaw Photography.
Ethan Laughing 2024 Flagstaff High School boys basketball banner by Sean Openshaw Photography.
Connor O'Brien-Piubeni 2024 Flagstaff High School boys basketball banner by Sean Openshaw Photography.
Jake Centner 2024 Flagstaff High School boys basketball banner by Sean Openshaw Photography.
Zach Biah 2024 Flagstaff High School boys basketball banner by Sean Openshaw Photography.

Sean Openshaw is a Flagstaff photographer and storyteller. Sean combines photos, videos and words to help you capture what a moment means, not just what it looks like.