Third quarters haven't been Mesa Mountain View's forte much this season, but Wednesday night it produced a near-flawless one.
That period was the impetus to the 15th-seeded Toros knocking off No. 2 seed Gilbert High, 68-53, in the first round of an incredibly wild night in the 5A Division I boys state basketball tournament at Gilbert High.
"We've had some real stinkers this year," Mountain View coach Gary Ernst said of his team's third quarters. "Tonight we played very well. The kids were very focused that quarter. It was a great time to have a solid quarter."
Mountain View (21-9), winning its 13th consecutive state tournament game, advances to Saturday's quarterfinals. The Toros get a rematch of last year's title game and another chance in pursuit of a four-peat against No. 10 seed Phoenix St. Mary's at St. Mary's. The Knights knocked off No. 7 seed Tucson Wednesday.
Senior guard Brendon Lavender led Mountain View with 20 points, 15 coming in the second half. Nathan Murphy, who did not play against Gilbert when the teams met Feb. 1 in the Tigers' 49-47 win, added 19 points. He kept Mountain View afloat with 13 of his points coming in the first half. Jordan McLelland also scored in double figures for the Toros, adding 10 points.
How good was Mountain View's third period? The Toros outscored Gilbert, 20-8. They did not commit a turnover. They connected on 8 of 11 field goals, including their first five shots of the quarter to take control of the contest. Meanwhile, Gilbert, which closed the season 20-8, turned the ball over five times in that stanza. It took one minute for the Tigers to lose their halftime lead of 24-23 for good.
Mountain View took a 43-32 lead to the final quarter and decided to work the clock with the lead and Gilbert's foul trouble. The Toros took just six shots in the final period and made five. From the free throw line in the quarter, they were 15 of 18 to blunt any idea Gilbert had of making a comeback.
Ernst was particularly pleased with Murphy, who had his best game since coming back from illness two weeks ago.
"He had a great game in all phases," Ernst said. "He made 3s, played great defense and kept us in the game in the first half with his shooting."
Senior guard Daniel Carter paced Gilbert with 11 points and teammate Shawn King came off the bench to add 10 points.