Veteran leadership of Hobbs and Adame
crucial to Mesa's success
November 29, 2018 by Quinn Jamieson, Arizona State University
Some basketball teams would panic after giving up a 13-5 run that lasted
into the fourth quarter. Others wouldn’t be able to finish strong, holding
a two-point lead with under a minute to go. And many wouldn’t know how to
respond after losing a game to the same opponent three days prior in a
Mesa High School's basketball team faced each of these scenarios in their
first regular season game and overcame all of them in a 44-40 victory over
Corona Del Sol.
The primary reasons why? Composure, experience and leadership.
At the forefront are two seniors, Zach Hobbs and Tony Adame. They are
making sure that the standard of excellence surrounding the Mesa
basketball program doesn't miss a step during a period of change.
The duo share the job of team captains, they are dynamic on the court and
they provide valuable varsity experience for a team that has high
Hobbs at 6-foot-4 is one of the taller players on the Mesa team but he can
play any position on the floor. He is primarily utilized as a shooting
guard, with strong scoring abilities from the perimeter and inside the
paint. He is averaging a team-leading 16.5 points per game along with five
rebounds, according to maxpreps.com. He has been awarded East Valley
First-Team All-Conference honors the past two seasons.
Adame may only stand at 5-foot-9, but the playmaking point guard commands
respect when handling the ball. He is averaging 13.3 points per game,
along with 3.5 assists and 4 steals, according to maxpreps.com. Adame was
an East Valley conference honorable mention last season.
The pair provide much more for the Jackrabbits than stats suggest. Adame
is a three-year varsity player and a vocal leader on the floor. Hobbs is a
four-year varsity player who was a freshman on the Mesa state championship
team in 2015-2016.
Hobbs' experience on that team has been invaluable three years later.
“I was like a sponge that year, just trying to take in everything I could
from those guys,” Hobbs said. “I know what it takes to get there, and I
just try and tell these guys.”
“He’s seen it,” head coach Scott Stansberry said. “He's been a part of it,
and he knows exactly what it takes.”
That state championship team was coached by Shane Burcar, a Mesa High
legend, who amassed a 67-19 record during his tenure. At the end of last
season, he left the program to take a job as an assistant coach at
Northern Arizona University.
In stepped Stansberry, a former freshman/JV coach and varsity assistant at
Mesa who has spent the last three seasons trying to turn around the
fledging basketball program at Apache Junction High School. He made
significant strides in that regard, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to
return to Mesa and take over for his mentor.
“Being back here means everything to me," Stansberry said. “I love it
Burcar left big shoes to fill, but Stansberry doesn’t let the pressure get
to him and has tried to absorb everything Burcar taught him.
“I don’t really put too much pressure on myself, because as long as we do
what we do and execute, the wins will come," Stansberry said. "It’s just
an honor to follow him and to have his blessing.”
The transition between the coaches made for a difficult summer.
“We definitely had an awkward June," Hobbs said. “It kind of took us until
school started and then everyone bought in then.”
Adame added: “It helped that he was on the team prior. He knew Mesa
basketball and he knew the culture.”
Stansberry has relied heavily on seniors like Adame and Hobbs to ensure
the winning culture remains in place.
His coaching style may differ from that of Burcar, but apart from a “few
tweaks” he hasn't changed much and doesn't plan on doing so. The
Jackrabbits have continued to utilize the same formula that has helped
them to 14 state championships.
That formula consists of gritty team basketball with an emphasis on hustle
“Mesa High has always been known for playing defense and getting after
it,” Stansberry said. “That is absolutely one thing that will never
Hobbs shared a similar opinion.
“We just try to play team basketball,” Hobbs said. “We really focus on
playing hard-nosed tough defense.”
The duo tries to be leaders on and off the court. They’re vocal on the
floor, talk to the team during timeouts and are as Stansberry
characterized them, “an extension of me as the coach.”
Stansberry called his decision to name the pair captains a “no-brainer.”
Adame feels that his actions in practice have a bigger impact than any
vocal leadership he provides.
“I think it's the intensity that we (he and Hobbs) have and it's in
everything that we do,” Adame said. “It's the culture that we have here.
We bring it (intensity) in practice so that they (younger players) know
what it's like in a game.”
Fellow senior and third-year varsity player Eddie McClendon, whom the pair
called the teams “spark plug,” noticed the small ways they lead and help
out the team.
“Those are my dogs!” Mcclendon said. “They have the experience and they
know when the game needs to slow down and speed up because they’ve been
there and done that.”
Together Hobbs and Adame are responsible for a large portion of Mesa’s
nightly offensive output and they both like the added pressure.
“First, we like to rely on our defense. If they don’t score, we don’t have
to,” Hobbs said. “There's definitely a little bit of pressure for us to
produce, but that's what we like."
Hobbs and Adame are the first to tell you that a good basketball team is
made up of far more than just two players. For Mesa, their strength comes
in the form of a supporting cast that features six other seniors. While
none of these players accumulate the individual stats or accolades that
Adame and Hobbs boast, they are equally important to the team's success.
“We don’t have 6-foot-10 guys here so we need all five to box out on
defense," Adame said. “On offense, it's just about everyone hitting open
shots and taking care of the ball.”
The development of the team behind the experience of the seniors is
especially important this season considering Mesa lost two East Valley
First-Team All-Conference Players in Mark Hatch and Xavier Fuller to
graduation last year.
Stansberry believes one of the keys to having success over multiple
seasons revolves around having leaders in the program that help the
younger guys develop.
“It's great leadership having them. They know the expectations,”
Stansberry said. “We do have a lot of seniors, but we also have a lot of
sophomores and juniors that don’t have the varsity experience so it's
great having them help groom them along so we can keep the excellence
Both Hobbs and Adame felt they had great leaders that helped them develop.
This is something they remember as they try to fill a similar role.
The individual accolades will undoubtedly come for Hobbs and Adame, who
both have aspirations to play in college, but the duo isn’t focused on
that. Their mindset is to take it “one game at a time” and try to make
something special happen in their final high school season.
“Being seniors, we’re definitely fighting for everything," Hobbs said.
“Something special about these younger guys is they fight for us too.”
At 4-1 (including tournament play), Mesa is off to a solid start, but have
much higher aspirations.
This season's iteration of the Jackrabbits not only wants to beat the mark
set by last year’s team at 21-6, but they want to return to the same place
they were three years ago, and they believe that they have the core to do
Nobody would blame a first-year head coach for trying to taper
expectations. After all, there only is one state champion. But Stansberry
hasn’t backed down from the expectations. In fact, he’s embraced them to
help motivate his team.
He is setting the bar high in his inaugural season, and it is clear that
with the leadership, talent and experience that Adame and Hobbs bring to
the table, combined with a senior-heavy supporting cast, that ambitious
goal isn’t out of reach.
The Jackrabbits will hit the road for the first time this season on Friday
at La Joya Community High School in Avondale at 7 pm.
MESA vs. BOULDER CREEK
November 21, 2018 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365-
Mesa High and new
coach Scott Stansberry are pretty satisfied with their 3-0 start to the
2018-2019 season. The latest of the wins came Wednesday night in the
semifinals of its annual Fear the Hop tournament -- a come-from-behind
Zach Hobbs sank a go-ahead three with 2:01 left in overtime as Mesa
rallied from a nine-point, third-quarter deficit to defeat Boulder Creek,
67-63, at Jackrabbit Gym.
Mesa faces Corona del Sol, which also ran its record to 3-0 with a 67-34
win over Campo Verde in the other semifinal. Those teams meet in the
championship game on Saturday at 7 at Mesa.
Hobbs, a 6-foot-4 senior guard who is closing in on the school record for
most three-point field goals made in a career, sank just the one trey in
this game. Hobbs had a tough time getting shots attempting just eight.
Hobbs finished with 10 points after a 31-point effort the night before
against Queen Creek. Other teammates picked up the slack with Tony Adame
hitting for 14 points as well as Jesus Velazco with 14 points off the
bench. Wyatt Appel was the fourth Mesa player in double figures with 10.
Appel sank two free throws with 13 seconds left after Boulder Creek turned
the ball over on a potential tying possession to ice the game.
The game was close most of the way, but Boulder Creek put some fear in
Mesa using 12-2 run to open up a 39-30 lead with five minutes left in the
third period. Mesa pecked away and trailed 44-41 heading to the final
period. There were six lead changes in the final quarter. Mesa led 57-55
after Hobbs' three-point play put the Jackrabbits ahead with 1:18 to go.
Two free throws by Boulder Creek's Sam Kinsale tied it at 57. Hobbs missed
a three with 1.3 seconds left bringing on overtime.
Boulder Creek (1-2) was led by guard Tyrese Rogers with 18 points. Kyle
Harris, Gavin Caldwell and Kinsale tallied 10 points apiece.