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. 2017-18 GAME RECAPS .

Gilbert third quarter sinks Mesa
February 13, 2018 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

What Gilbert High didn't do in the first half of Tuesday's 6A boys basketball playoff game with Mesa High was take care of the ball. Once they took care of that -- in a clean and decisive third quarter -- the evening belonged to the Tigers.

#10 Gilbert turned around a two-point halftime deficit by outscoring #7 Mesa 18-4 in the third period and went on to post a 56-39 victory over the Jackrabbits in a first-round game at Jackrabbit Gym.

Gilbert (16-11) moves on to the quarterfinals to face top-seed Pinnacle on Friday night at 6:30 at Pinnacle. Pinnacle trounced #15 Highland, 88-42. Mesa saw its season finish with a glossy 21-6 mark.

Gilbert's starting five was balanced in scoring in the victory. Brycen Long led with 11 points, Doc Self and Tyler LaGanke added 10 each and Carson Towt contributed eight. The low-man was Trajon Hawkins, who often leads the Tigers in scoring. This night Hawkins netted just six. All of them were tallied consecutively in the final 2:38 of the game as part of a 7-0 run that ended Mesa's hopes at a comeback. Playing well in reserve for Gilbert was sophomore guard Paul Maldonado, who had nine points and scored in every quarter.

"We'll be in games if we defend, rebound and take care of the ball," Gilbert coach Jay Caserio said. "We were better in the second half protecting the ball."

The teams were on their way to playing their usual tight contest that often ends with the winner and/or both teams scoring in the low 40s as they did back on November 30 when Gilbert prevailed, 44-42. An eight-turnover first half in a predominantly half-court contest was a major factor Gilbert was down 20-18. In the third quarter, Gilbert committed zero turnovers.

In addition the Tigers hit the open man the few times that was the case as Mesa was played pretty fair defense itself. And on occasion the Tigers went one-on-one when they had a mismatch in the paint. Gilbert made 7 of 9 shots from the field in the third quarter, including threes from LaGanke (2) and Long (1). Mesa meanwhile turned the ball over five times in the quarter and made only 1 of 7 shots from the floor. That basket came from junior Zach Hobbs, a key portion nightly of Mesa's offense.

Hobbs, however, hardly played in the second half after putting up seven points in the first half. Hobbs picked up his fourth foul with 3:11 left in the third quarter and didn't return until 5:44 remained in the game. He fouled out 27 seconds later finishing with 9 points and leaving Mesa without a weapon that could have been huge in mounting a comeback.

Seniors Xavier Fuller and Mark Hatch led Mesa in scoring with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Hatch endured a tough night shooting, hitting on only 2 of 9 from the field. Along with Hobbs, they were the only Mesa players to score in the first three quarters.


Desert Vista rally tops Gilbert
January 11, 2018 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Last year Desert Vista and Gilbert traded five-point wins in see-saw battles. Nothing changed in the manner of contest Thursday when they met for the first of two meetings at the Jungle.

Tyrek Chambers took 13 seconds to answer Gilbert's final salvo in the final 30 seconds providing No. 5 Desert Vista a 55-54 win over the No.12 Tigers in a 6A Central Region game.

Desert Vista improved to 15-3 overall and is now 2-0 in 2-1 in Central Region play. Gilbert, after notching a 10-point win on Tuesday over Corona del Sol, dropped to 10-8, 2-1 in region. Both are a game behind region leader and top-ranked Mountain Pointe. Gilbert's loss was its fifth by four points or less this season.

Chambers and Alijah Gammage led Desert Vista with 12 points apiece and center Christian Anigwe added 11 points -- nine in the second half. Gilbert led most of the game and held a 52-45 lead with 3:41 left after a basket by Brycen Long. The Tigers controlled Desert Vista's size advantage most of the game, but the 6-foot-8 senior Anigwe was a factor late at both ends. He disrupted shots in the paint down the stretch and scored a pair of baskets in the final two minutes to key the Thunder's rally along with Chambers.

Anigwe's putback dunk with 54 seconds gave Desert Vista its first lead (53-52) since midway through the third quarter. Gilbert broke a three-minute scoreless streak with 28 seconds left as Trajon Hawkins capped a brilliant, hustling effort with a decisive drive in the lane for a 54-53 advantage. Hawkins finished with a game-high 22 points and was dazzling in the third period with 12 points.

Desert Vista didn't seek a timeout after Gilbert took its final lead. Chambers controlled the possession and made a nifty move in the paint to net for the game-winner with 15 seconds left.

Gilbert called time with 8 seconds left to set up a final shot. Long got off a perimeter shot that caromed off the front of the rim. Teammate Doc Self tracked it down but his off-balance toss at the hoop went awry. Self scored 12 points and Long chipped in 11.


Mountain Pointe Escapes Gilbert In OT
by Justin Vargas Thursday, December 28

Wednesday night would mark one of the more anticipated match-ups of this years McClintock Holiday Shoot-Out hosted at McClintock High School. The red-hot Mountain Pointe Pride (12-1) coached by Duane Eason, who was coming off of a hard-earned win against Mesquite High the night before, would take on a tough team in Coach Jay Caserioís Gilbert Tigers (8-5).

The two teams playing having contrasting styles of play, with Mountain Pointe pressing the entire game; usually with their run-and-gun system against a very half-court based Gilbert offense, that is very patient and methodical and chooses their shots carefully. It had the makings of a good mid-season match-up.

Mountain Pointeís full-court pressure seemed to wreak a little bit of havoc on Gilbert early, but the Pride allowed Gilbert to hang with them by committing careless turnovers in transition after creating turnovers on the defensive end. Both teams would go back-and-forth in the opening quarter with neither willing to give an inch to allow either team to go on any kind of run. A baseline fall-away jumper by Mountain Pointeís 6-foot-4 senior guard Amarion Cash before the buzzer would break a 15-all tie to give his team the lead out of the first quarter.

Both teams would continue their stingy ways early In the 2nd quarter as neither team could create more than a one possession lead. Gilbertís 5-foot-10 senior guard Doc Self would hit a 3-pointer to give his team their biggest lead of the game, 25-19, with 4 minutes to go in the 1st half. Their 6-foot senior guard Trajon Hawkins would hit his second 3-ball of the quarter to give them a 28-21 lead with less than 3 minutes left. Gilbert would take a 31-27 lead into the half.

Gilbert would come out of the locker rooms attempting to take the air out of the ball to slow down the fast-paced Mountain Pointe attack. The Pride just could not get any type of flow going early in the 3rd quarter, looking out of sorts with the ball. Gilbertís feistiness on defense giving the Pride more problems than they could handle. A sweet feed from Gilbertís 6-foot sophomore guard Paul Maldonado to teammate, 6-foot-1 sophomore wing Brycen Long, under the rim would give the Tigers their first double-digit lead with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd. But showing they were just down and not out, Mountain Pointe would get back-to-back 3-balls from their sharpshooting 6-foot-5 senior forward Ryan Pate and 5-foot-9 junior guard Khalid Price to bring them back to within 4 with 15 ticks left in the 3rd period. However, Brycen Long would strike again as he would answer with a 3-pointer of his own at the buzzer to send the Tigers into the final quarter up 49-42.

The two teams would get back to their ways of trading buckets early in the 4th quarter, with Mountain Pointe really struggling to convert from the free-throw line. The Gilbert defense would give the Mountain Pointe shooters more open looks from 3 than mall Santaís giving out candy canes, however the Pride failed to cash in on the opportunities. Nevertheless, with 1 minute left in the game, Price would can 2 free-throws to tie the game at 53. Hawkins would give the Tigers back the lead with 2 free-throws of his own. A possession later, he would do it again, canning another set of clutch free-throws to give his team a 4-point advantage. However, Price would score a lay-up in less than 5 seconds to get Mountain Pointe back to within 2 with 9.4 seconds to go. Out of a Gilbert time-out, Mountain Pointe would force a jump-ball on the in-bound pass with 6.8 seconds left and the arrow in their favor. Price would find 6-foot-7 sophomore forward DeAndre Henry under the hoop on a beautifully drawn up inbound play by Coach Eason to force overtime.

On their first offensive possession, Price would hit a running floater to give the Pride their first lead since early in the 2nd quarter. With the game tied, Brycen Long would hit another trey with a minute and 30 seconds left. But not to be outdone, Price would come up big again with a 3-ball of his own to tie it back up. With Mountain Pointe clinging to a one-point lead and 10 seconds left, Long would try another shot from deep but would miss as the Pride escapes with a 66-64 victory.

Price would lead all scorers with 24 as Gilbertís Trajon Hawkins left it all on the floor with 21 points of his own in the losing effort. Hawkins is as tough as they come in this state. The kid has no fear and is not afraid of getting inside and banging with the big boys in the paint for rebounds or hitting the deck for the loose ball with the guards. The Tigers go as he goes. Though they came up short, he made all 6 of his late-game clutch free-throws and he might not have hit the rim on 4 or 5 of them. He defines the way the Tigers like to play.


Gilbert outlasts Mesa
November 30, 2017 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Gilbert High boys basketball coach Jay Caserio and Mesa High coach Shane Burcar grew up close by in the same Michigan town separated in age by five years. Their teams play a similar brand of basketball and this season with little size on either side it was a defensive battle worth watching.

Two technical foul free throws by Trajon Hawkins and three by Doc Self in the final 2:44 proved the difference as Gilbert hung on for a 44-42 win over Mesa in a 6A contest at the Jungle.

Gilbert (4-2 overall), fielding the youngest team in Caserio's 11-year tenure, was more than happy to nab its first power-ranking win after losing one at the buzzer Tuesday night against Boulder Creek. Mesa (5-1) lost for the first time this season and is 1-1 in power-ranking games.

Gilbert used a huge third-quarter advantage sparked by Self that turned a two-point halftime deficit to a 39-28 advantage heading to the fourth quarter. Self, who tied for game-high honors with 19 points, made all four of his field-goal attempts in the third quarter -- three from 3-point range. Hawkins added five points in the quarter and Jaqwuan Myles four combined to outscore Mesa, 22-9, in the third period.

Gilbert did not make another basket the rest of the game. The Tigers led 39-30 after a timeout with six minutes to play and that's when Mesa senior guard Mark Hatch (team-high 19 points) and Zach Hobbs (14 points) went to work to rally the Jackrabbits. Hatch made a three-point play and sank a long three. Hobbs, an outstanding 3-point shooter, also hit a three (his fourth of the night) and the game was tied at 39.

Gilbert took the lead for good, 41-39, with 2:44 left after Hawkins sank free throws off a technical foul assessed to Hobbs. Gilbert turned the ball over three times in the next 2 1/2 minutes, but Mesa missed shot attempts on all three of the ensuing possessions. Hatch missed a tough three with 18 seconds left and Gilbert ended up with the ball. Self went to the line for a one-and-one with 12 seconds left and made both. Hatch raced up court and couldn't convert on a drive to the basket. Self was fouled again and made one of two free throws with three seconds left to seal the victory. Hatch banked in a three at the buzzer.

"Neither of us has size, but size can be overrated," Caserio said. "We both have the ability to shoot it and handle it, and the three-ball can be the equalizer. One of the keys for us was the defense by Tyler LaGanke on (Mesa's Xavier) Fuller. Fuller can be a handful. Tyler played all 32 minutes and Fuller (five points, none in the second half) didn't have a big game."














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