February 9, 2005
The 600th coaching victory for Gary Ernst was supposed to be more difficult than this.
His top-ranked Mountain View Toros controlled the No. 3 Mesa Jackrabbits from start to finish on Tuesday in picking up a 57-41 5A East Valley Region victory.
"Coach told us he wasn’t worried about it so we shouldn’t be worried about it,’’ Mountain View sophomore Harper Kamp said.
The capacity crowd, made up mostly of Mesa students, had more to cheer about during the junior varsity game, a one-point victory for the Toros, than they did for the main event.
"We’re not making plays when we have to,’’ Mesa coach Shawn Lynch said.
In making Ernst’s career record 600-257, the Toros used a suffocating defense and solid rebounding on both ends of the floor to beat the Jackrabbits (19-4, 8-3). Mountain View (25-0, 11-0) is allowing 45 points per game this season.
Two of Mesa’s top players, guard Travis LeBaron and forward Matt Komenda, combine to average 25 points per game. Tuesday, they combined for nine points. Komenda didn’t get his first basket until midway through the third quarter.
"He’s a good player so I just tried to stay between him and the basket,’’ Kamp said. "Defense and rebounding are why we came out on top.’’
LeBaron had four points before leaving the game two minutes into the second half with a right ankle injury. He did not return to the game and
was walking with a slight limp.
Kamp supplied most of Mountain View’s offense with his rugged inside play. The 6-foot-6 sophomore had 17 points on the night with junior Stephen Rogers getting 13 and sophomore Kendall Wallace scoring 10.
Rogers and Kamp combined for 11 points in the third quarter when Mountain View turned a 21-20 halftime lead into a 41-28 advantage to start the fourth quarter. Mesa failed to score in the final four minutes of the third.
Mesa’s only consistent offense came from senior Graham Hatch who had 19 points. He scored all nine of the Jackrabbits’ points in the first quarter, all on long 3-pointers.
With just one regular season game left, the Jackrabbits have now lost two straight games and haven’t played very well against Mountain Pointe or Mountain View.
"We’ve lost some of our aggressiveness,’’ Lynch said.
The same cannot be said of the Toros who have been perfect this season. The only time Mountain View hasn’t played well, Ernst said, was just after the Christmas break when Phoenix Camelback played a slowdown style game against it.
The Toros ended up winning 26-20.
"We had a heck of a time getting going again,’’ Ernst said. "It took us two or three games to get it back.’’
Arizona coaches with at least 600 wins and where they acquired most of their victories:
Dick McConnell, Tucson Sahuaro, 730* Sam Duane, Corona del Sol, 663 B.C. "Bud" Doolen, Tucson, 641 Gary Ernst, Mountain View, 600*