Boys hoops: Mesa
pulls away from Perry in 3rd quarter
December 13, 2016 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365
Mesa High's boys basketball team continued a solid, early-season stretch
on Tuesday night winning its eighth game in 10 tries with a 57-44 win over
Perry at Jackrabbit Gym.
Mesa, the defending big-school champion, doesn't have all the pieces from
last year's title team, but a couple of those returning keyed the victory
in this one -- senior DJ Henderson and junior Mark Hatch.
Henderson kept Mesa in control much of the first half with 10 of his
game-high 17 points. The Jackrabbits owned a slim 22-18 edge at
intermission. In an otherwise cold-shooting first half, Henderson scored
all his points posting up inside. It was fortunate for the Jackrabbits
because teammates shots from the perimeter were not falling. Both teams
shot in the mid-30 percent range in the opening half.
"I think we were like 2-for-10 from outside with our best shooters," Mesa
coach Shane Burcar said. "DJ kept us going the first half and after we
started slow the third quarter our other guys began making shots."
Varsity newcomer Zach Hobbs, a sophomore, picked up the offense for Mesa
in the third period by scoring nine of his 12 points. He sank a pair of
threes helping push the lead to double digits at 35-25 in the final minute
of the third period. Both teams missed their first five shots in the third
quarter. Overall it was an ugly quarter.
Mesa got a pair of baskets from the pesky Hatch in a five-second span
early in the fourth quarter that put Perry down 12. Perry trailed by as
many as 14 with four minutes left, but managed to claw its way back to a
two-possession game at 48-42 with 1:18 to go.
Perry's strategy of fouling for possession helped pare the deficit, but
the Pumas missed a couple layups that could have made the outcome a tad
tighter come the final 90 seconds. Xavier Fuller, who added 15 points for
Mesa, scored eight in the final period -- including 4-of-4 from the
free-throw line to help salt it away.
Perry, now 4-5 under Sam Duane Jr. in his first season back after a year's
hiatus, is trying to find a level of consistency that can get it over the
.500 mark before the calendar turns to January.
"Every game it seems we have a stretch where we get in a funk," Duane Jr.
said. "We don't have a lot of varsity experience, but we have to start
improving game to game. Right now it's not happening."
Rajhan Billingsluy led Perry with 11 points and CJ Jamerson came off the
bench to chip in with nine. Perry had a chance to stay with Mesa in the
third period, but made only 3 of 13 shots in the quarter. Perry turned the
ball over 13 times in the second half.