Desert Mountain denies Ernst all-time wins record - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Desert Mountain denies Ernst all-time wins record

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Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 10:15 pm

Todd Fazio is returning to anonymity, and he couldn't be happier about it.

Desert Mountain upset No. 3 Mountain View, 44-39, in the first round of the Division I, Section III boys basketball tournament on Wednesday night at Desert Mountain, denying Toros coach Gary Ernst his 775th win.

Ernst would have broken the record for most career wins in Arizona boys basketball coaching history, but will now have to wait until the first round of the state tournament next week to get another shot. Ernst is currently tied in victories with former Tucson Sahuaro coach Dick McConnell.

Fazio said Ernst's record was very much on his mind. He told his players that he wasn't interested in going down in history like Al Downing, the pitcher that gave up hank Aaron's 715th career home run.

"Obviously coach Ernst is a role model of mine and I was honored to be even a part of this game," Desert Mountain's coach said. "I'm just glad he'll get that next week. We knew the cameras were going to be here, we knew you (reporters) were going to be here, Dr. (Harold) Slemmer was going to be here. We knew it was going to be a big night. As a coach at this time of the season, you use anything to motivate."

The Wolves surely weren't lacking in that category, as the victory gave them an automatic berth into the Division I state tournament by virtue of making the section semifinals. A flaw in the power points system likely would have gotten Desert Mountain in either way, but now the team can rest easy.

"We still want to make a run and get a higher seed in the playoffs, but this is nice," forward Connor Johnson said.

Mountain View led 34-33 with 6:08 remaining on a bucket by Payton Dastrup, but the Wolves used a 10-2 run to pull ahead by seven points with a 1:40 remaining.

The Toros closed to within four on a 3-pointer from Mitch Wallace with 47 seconds remaining, but would get no closer.

Desert Mountain will play Brophy in the Division I, Section III semifinals on Friday night at Chaparral.

Mountain View will still make the state tournament, but its seeding will take a drastic dip.

Anthony Tepedino had 13 points to lead the Wolves. Dastrup had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Toros and Camyn Boone had 13. 

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