Monday night’s matchup between Gilbert Highland and Phoenix North had its moments.
Whether it was Highland’s Matt Carlino scoring nine points in a minute and a half or teammate Nick Johnson skying to block North’s Daniel Bejarano’s dunk attempt, elite athleticism was on display.
But only in spurts.
Even though Carlino (Indiana) and Bejarano (Texas) are committed to big-time colleges — and Johnson uncommitted but in the same company — the action was sloppy at times as North came away with a 59-51 over Highland in the MLK Basketball Classic at Wells Fargo Arena.
“It was certainly not our best effort,” Highland coach Mark Carlino said. “But we’ve got to wash this one away because we’ve got a big one (today at Chandler).”
Matt Carlino scored 10 of Highland’s 15 points in the final 5:18 of the second quarter to turn a two-point deficit into a 28-23 halftime lead.
Highland (17-3), ranked second in 5A-I, went up by seven with 5:42 left in the third quarter, but North went on a 17-0 run to take a 10-point lead with 30 seconds remaining in the quarter.
That’s when Carlino went to work, scoring nine points in 90 seconds to cut the deficit to five. The Hawks would get as close as three, but could never get over the hump.
Bejarano had a 3-point play with 54 seconds left to extend the North lead to seven and clinch the victory.
He finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but shot just 7-of-21 from the field, including 1-for-8 from 3-point range.
Carlino had 23 points, but was 10-of-23 from the field and turned the ball over six times.
Johnson shot 1-for-10 and finished with just three points, which came on a three-point play in the game’s first minute.
North used a zone defense in the second half to stymie Highland offensively. The Hawks scored only nine points in the third quarter and didn’t get a bucket in the final three minutes of the game until a meaningless lay-up by Carlino.
“We never really got into an offensive rhythm,” Mark Carlino said. “It wasn’t a super-aggressive zone, we just didn’t hit any shots. That happens.”
Highland has lost two of its last three games after starting the season 16-1.
In the earlier boys games, Goodyear Estrella Foothills got 40 points from guard Corey Hawkins and drilled Kayenta Monument Valley, 73-29. Hawkins added 11 rebounds and nine steals. Scottsdale Christian used a 15-9 advantage in the second period to gain control and topped Phoenix Northwest Christian, 57-47. Bo Barnes paced SCA with 18 points, Hayden Johnson had 14 and Jake Cipolletti added 10. Tom Lemke led NWC with 15 points.