February 8, 2005
Mountain View boys basketball coach Gary Ernst seeks the 600th win of his career tonight, but it won’t be easy.
The top-ranked Toros are 24-0 this season and in hostile territory, facing 5A East Valley Region rival and defending state champ Mesa at Jackrabbit Gym.
‘‘I try not to think about things like this,’’ said Ernst, who notched the last milestone of his career (win No. 500) in November 2001 when the Toros beat Westwood. ‘‘It really just means I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve known I wanted to coach since I was a sophomore in high school. It’s been a blessing for me being at Mountain View. There have been so many good kids. Not that Chandler or the other places I’ve been at haven’t been enjoyable and some real good kids to work with. It’s just the number of years I’ve been here.’’
Three other boys basketball coaches have won 600 or more games in Arizona history — Tucson Sahuaro coach Dick McConnell (730), former Tempe High and Corona del Sol coach Sam Duane Sr. (663) and B.C. (Bud) Doolen (641), the late father of former Westwood coach Buddy Doolen.
Win No. 100: After enduring a two-game losing streak that knocked Mesquite out of the 5A Fiesta Region title race, the Wildcats rebounded last Friday with a win, giving coach Candice Gonzales the 100th win in her six-year tenure.
‘‘We had three wins our first season,’’ Gonzales said. ‘‘We have 23 this season and it’s not over. It feels great to get the monkey off my back.’’
This is the fourth straight season Mesquite has won 20 games or more. They just missed 20 wins in Gonzales’ second season, finishing with 19.
Close to moving to a new team: Gilbert High guard Nicole Rodriguez has quietly put together four good seasons for the Tigers. Her life will get very busy shortly after graduation in May.
Rodriguez has enlisted in the Army National Guard and heads out May 30 —
four days after graduation — for basic training. After that it’s on to Virginia for five months of advanced individual training. Then she returns to Arizona for service in the Guard one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
‘‘I joined the army to better myself and to be on a team bigger than I have ever been on before,’’ Rodriguez said. ‘‘When I put on my uniform I feel a sense of pride that I have never felt before.’’
Rodriguez wants to attend junior college while in the Guard and play basketball. Rodriguez is averaging 15 points a game and three assists this season. She has been an All-Fiesta Region performer two of her first three seasons.
Red Mountain on a roll: Red Mountain has been pushing to scale the mountain of top 5A basketball teams this season and looks to be on solid footing after winning its ninth and 10th consecutive games last week.
The Mountain Lions shocked No. 2 Desert Vista on the Thunder’s home floor, 57-55, Tuesday and ended Mountain View’s six-game winning streak Friday. A win over Westwood tonight would clinch the East Valley Region crown for coach Martin Appel’s squad.
‘‘The win over Desert Vista gave us a real confidence boost,’’ the Red Mountain coach said. ‘‘We’ve worked and worked toward improving, but really until you beat a team of that caliber that confidence doesn’t kick in.’’
Red Mountain dropped games by 20 points to Corona del Sol in November, 13 to Mesquite in November and 18 to Highland in December.
More signees: Several more high school seniors signed national letters of intent last week to play Division I college soccer. Among those who signed were Mountain Pointe’s Christina Hughes with Arizona, Desert Vista’s Jen Christoffers with Utah, Cactus Shadows’ Katie Sauer with Drake, Desert Vista’s Lea MacKinnon with Stanford and Mesquite’s Shannon Ludwig with Regis (Colo.).