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Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Mesa High boys hoops run winning streak to 9, whack DobsonDec 13, 2012
Dobson boys basketball coach Rick McConnell hopes his team learned a lesson Thursday night after absorbing a 57-40 loss to sister-school Mesa High at Jackrabbit Gym.
The loss had a lot to do with a one attribute more than it did the truck load of missed shots.
"We've really struggled with trying to be patient," McConnell said. "We force up too many shots. Sometimes it borders on ridiculous. We need to throw that extra pass.... If it isn't obivous to us tonight, I don't know when it will be."
Mesa's patience was certainly a notch or two better than Dobson's and after a couple of 3-pointers by Mesa guard D.J. Henderson near the end of the first quarter put the Jackrabbits ahead, they never trailed again. Patience helped Mesa post four players with between nine and 15 points. And to a great degree aided a better shooting percentage that painted the difference in the outcome.
Mesa has won nine consecutive games after opening the season with a loss to Hamilton. Dobson fell to 7-3, suffering a second straight loss. As individually talented as the Mustangs are, they must work toward better shot selection to make the abilities of Jaron Hopkins, Ryan Richardson and recently returned Kodi Justice as effective as the pundits and McConnell believe they will be. All three had tough nights shooting -- Hopkins was 5-for-22, Richardson 3-for-11 and Justice 2-for-14.
Mesa, which has received balanced scoring pretty much all season, got that again Thursday evening. Henderson finished with 15 points, Dan Richards had 14, center Isaac Allen added 12 and Christian Harris chipped in with nine - seven in the first half. The Jackrabbits possessions were often lengthier than Dobson's as the Mustangs were content launching the first open look they had. Most of those were perimeter shots. There was a reluctance to take the ball to the basket with the 6-foot-10 Allen guarding the paint.
Dobson led most of the first quarter, but Henderson's threes late in the period put Mesa up, 14-13, heading to the second period. Cold shooting and Mesa's ability to score from all over the foor in the second quarter positioned the game for a blowout. Mesa outscored Dobson 22-6 in the second period and the halftime stats verified Mesa's 36-19 lead. Dobson was 7-for-31 from the field (2-for-18 in the second quarter); Mesa made 13-of-27 shots (7-of-13 in the second).
"We knew at half they'd come out and give us a run," Mesa coach Shane Burcar said. "I kind of thought we might start slow becasue the kids were so hyped for this game. Those shots DJ hit in the first quarter were huge. Gave us confidence and got us going."
Dobson did make a run in the third. The Mustangs trailed by as many as 18, but whittled the lead to 43-36 after three period. Mesa didn't take as good a care of the ball in the second half (12 turnovers compared to 6 in the first half) and the third quarter was the best of the night for Hopkins, who scored eight of his team-high 15 points in that stanza. A Hopkins free throw and putback by Dobson post Brian Nichols pulled the Mustangs within 45-40 with 4:20 left. It was lights out for Dobson from there on. Dobson was outscored 12-0 to the finish and the game was essentially over with 1:58 to go after a three-point play by Felipe Velazco. Five Mesa players scored in the game-finishing run.
Burcar had high praise for Allen and Richards -- Allen for disclipined play and game-plan execution the last two games and Richards for the unsung quality he's brought to the floor every night.