The effort was there. The will was there. The shooting touch wasn’t for Mesa Westwood.
Combine that with the strong inside play of Mesa Dobson’s Taylor Johnson and it added up to a 48-37 victory for the Mustangs over visiting Westwood Tuesday night in the first round of the 5A-I East Valley Region boys basketball tournament.
Dobson (14-12) keeps its state playoff hopes alive. It faces Mesa in the region semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Mesa High. The season is over for Westwood (16-13).
Johnson, a 6-foot-4 senior, made his first four shots from the field and scored 10 of his game-high 21 points to get Dobson off to a good start. The Mustangs had help inside from others in the form of senior Melvin Douglas IV and sophomore John Bailey, who added 12 and six points, respectively.
“They are big and strong,” Westwood coach Paul Wilson said. “They did well inside. If you miss against them they’re going to grab it. We had some good shots early that didn’t fall.”
Westwood had to do most of its scoring from the perimeter and the shots didn’t fall enough, particularly in the second half when the Warriors needed to make a run. Dobson’s 28-21 lead at halftime grew to 40-21 with 2:50 left in the third period. Westwood missed its first eight shots of the third quarter, made just 2 of 11 in the period and shot only 30 percent for the night (14 of 47). Five 3-pointers in the first half kept Westwood in the game. Reserve Victor Mendoza led Westwood with 12 points, sinking four treys.
Westwood’s top scorers, seniors Kenneth O’Bannon and Dermaine Crockrell, combined for just 10 points.
“O’Bannon really hurt us the last time we played them,” Dobson coach Rick McConnell said. “We were ahead most of the game that night, but he just took over at the end. Taylor was very strong around the basket tonight, and we did a better job on O’Bannon.”
Wilson praised his seniors.
“Ken, Dermaine, Brandon (Large), all our seniors gave us leadership and competitive drive, especially the second half of the season,” Wilson said.