Mesa rally edges Mtn. View
February 08, 2022 y Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Mesa High played the role of gracious host to Mountain View and legendary coach Gary Ernst in a pre-game ceremony on Tuesday night. Former Mesa High coaches who dueled with Ernst - Paul Newendyke, Steve Hogen, Mike Schmidt, Shawn Lynch and Shane Burcar - were on hand to honor Ernst.

For three quarters of the game, hospitality continued with Toros having their way and leading by 13 with seven minutes to play. That's when Mesa turned rude.

#8 Mesa outscored #16 Mountain View, 26-10, over the final seven minutes allowing the Jackrabbits to edge the Toros, 66-63, at Jackrabbit Gym.

Win or lose Tuesday it wouldn't have been Ernst's last game as Toros coach. Mountain View will compete in a play-in game on Friday. The play-in game matchups will be determined Wednesday morning (teams 9-24) as will the top eight seeds. The top eight have qualified for state and await play-in game outcomes to find out their first opponent. The first round of the state tournament begins on Feb. 17.

Ernst, who has coached at Mountain View for 38 years and amassed 943 wins in his career, was told last week by Mountain View principal Mike Oliver he was done after this season. That decision has brought outrage from the state's basketball community.

Mesa, which never led in the game until the final period, took a 59-58 lead with 3:11 left on a layup by Conway Cummard. Mountain View tied it at 59 with a free throw from Brigg Wolfe. The teams were tied one more time at 61 with 1:02 to go.

Mesa took the lead for good, 63-61, on driving layup by Talbot Cummard with 25 seconds left. Mountain View's third turnover in the final three minutes led to two free throws by Parker Escalante with 7.7 seconds left and a 65-61 Mesa advantage. Time ran out for a Toros' victory after that.

Talbot Cummard led Mesa and all scorers with 32 points and Escalante added 14. Wolfe paced Mountain View with 27 points and teammate Conner Cook tallied 13.

Mesa trips Tucson in tussle, 41-36
January 21, 2022 y Les Willsey, AZPreps365

#10 Mesa High's hot shooting early from three-point range didn't last all game Friday in its battle with #12 Mountain View for first place alone in the 6A East Valley Region. It was good enough to allow the Jackrabbits to control the contest and notch a 55-49 road win at Toro Gym.

Mesa sank 7 of 11 treys in the first 11 minutes to amass a double-digit lead (21-10 after the first quarter). Its lead varied the rest of the way, but never dipped below four points and was mostly between six and 10. Mesa is 15-6 overall and 5-0 in region halfway through the region schedule. Mountain View is 10-10, 4-1.

Talbot Cummard and Josh Irish paced Mesa with 21 points and 13 points, respectively. Cummard scored 15 of his points in the first half and Irish 11 of his in the first 16 minutes. They were responsible for all but two of eight made threes - Cummard and Irish were each 3 of 5 behind the arc. All of the those makes were in the first half.

Mountain View, which never led in the game but kept the heat on Mesa to retain its advantage, relied heavily on junior guard Brigg Wolfe for its offense. Wolfe tallied 27 points on 8 of 15 shooting from the field and 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. Connor Cook chipped in with nine points.

Mountain View got within four points several times in the fourth quarter. The last was 50-46 with 2:54 to play. Layups by Irish and Noah Hunt and free throw from Parker Escalante kept Mountain View from getting any closer.

Mesa trips Tucson in tussle, 41-36
January14, 2022 Lede AI Tucson.com Sports Desk

Early action on the scoreboard pushed Mesa to the front, and it stayed there to fend off Tucson 41-36 in Arizona boys basketball action on January 14.

Mesa High eases past Dobson, 53-37
January 07, 2022 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

After a week layoff from games, Mesa High resumed action with a wire-to-wire victory over 6A East Valley Region rival Dobson.

The Jackrabbits played solid defense and received balanced scoring in defeating the host Mustangs, 53-37.

Strong first-halves from Josh Irish, Parker Escalante and Kota Benson jump-started Mesa to 38-20 advantage through two quarters. Irish finished with 12 points, Escalante 11 and Benson 10 along with his play-making from the point. Mesa is now 12-6 overall and 7-3 in power-ranking games. Dobson is 11-6, 6-3 prg. Mesa is unbeaten and in first place in the early going in region with a 3-0 mark.

"I liked our response from our last game at the McClintock Tournament," Mesa coach Scott Stansberry said, referring to a 66-42 loss to Basha.

An 8-0 run over a two-and-a-half minute span of the first quarter broke a 3-3 tie and got things rolling for Mesa. The Jackrabbits bumped the lead to 20-8 by quarter's end and to the 18-margin it held at intermission. Benson and Irish had eight points each in the first half. Escalante added six and off the bench six points were added by Noah Hunt.

Dobson tried to get back in the game in the second half, but couldn't pare the deficit below 10. The closest the Mustangs got was 46-35 with 4:24 left in the fourth quarter.

Dobson was led in scoring by its top scorer for the season - Denton Latimore. Latimore finished with 15 points, about four points shy of his average. Donovan Beard was next with nine points for the Mustangs.

Highland's third quarter sinks Mesa

November 30, 2021 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

AJ Riggs scored 24 of his game-high 28 points in the second half spurring Highland to a 54-49 victory over Mesa High at Jackrabbit Gym.

The game was the season opener for both schools in terms of power-ranking games - contests that count toward playoff qualifying and seeding. Highland trailed at halftime, 20-14, in a sluggish first 16 minutes for both teams.

Highland remained undefeated with its fourth win. The Hawks were 3-0 at Red Mountain's Beyond Ball Tourney. Mesa fell to 3-2. The Jackrabbits posted a 3-1 mark in its tourney. They lost the tourney final to undefeated Hamilton.

Riggs, 6-foot-2 senior guard, couldn't be handled in the second half. He made 6 of 7 field goals - five of them threes. He scored all the Hawks' points in the final period sinking a three and 6-of-6 free throws.

Highland outscored Mesa, 29-12 in the third period and its largest margin was 15 (37-22) with 2 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. Riggs got offensive help from senior Mason Knollmiller, who tallied 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter.

"Our first half was abysmal," Highland coach Todd Vazio said. "You have to credit Mesa for some of that. I loved our energy the second half, but we still haven't come out and put together four quarters.

"AJ came out of it tonight," Fazio said. "He gave us a lift in the second half as did Mason."

Josh Irish paced Mesa with 16 points and Talbot Cummard added 14. Cummard did not score in the first half, but still managed a lead at intermissin with seven points of the bench from Conway Cummard.



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