It’s been 25 years since the 1995 Mountain View boys basketball team won the 5A State title.
The Toros, coached by Gary Ernst, who still remains at the helm of the program to this day, capped off the 1989 season with a perfect 31-0 record. Aside from a Mike Bibby-led Shadow Mountain team in 2017 at the 4A level and Joy Christian in 2013 in Division IV – the equivalent of 2A – Mountain View is the last team to finish undefeated and win the title in the state’s largest division.
“They were really special,” Ernst said of the 1995 team. “This was my greatest team at Mountain View. Not the most talented, but they had great chemistry.”
The team was honored during halftime of the boys 6A title game, which featured a slew of college-level talent on both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe, a stark difference from Mountain View in 1995.
Not one member of the Toro basketball team at the time averaged more than 13 points per game. The team only produced a handful of players that went on to play junior college ball.
But while basketball careers didn’t pan out for the members of the Mountain View team, they all went on to become successful in their own way.
“We are lucky four or five of them were able to fly in because of the jobs they have,” Ernst said. “We have one that is working for NASA, we have one that has orthodontics clinics all over the country, we have all the bases covered, I’ll tell ya.”
Aside from the orthodontists and aerospace engineers, others went on to become vice president of sales for companies or become involved in real estate development, all building a family along the way.
Eddie Christensen went on to become an oral surgeon. He has seven kids, one of which, Nolan, currently plays under Ernst at Mountain View.
“Nolan will be a senior for him next year,” Christensen said. “(Ernst) is a pillar in the community. He has certainly coached a lot of great players that went through that program. He’s a leader.”
Christensen still recalls the championship with ease. The Toros ended their perfect season with a win over Shadow Mountain, at the time led by coach Jerry Conner.
The win set the program in motion to win two more state titles in 1998-99. The Toros also won three straight titles from 2005-07.
“I think looking back on what we did, I hope every young boy or girl realizes they can accomplish anything they want,” Christensen said. “It’s all about being a great teammate, because that’s what makes a great team. I feel fortunate to have been apart of something special like that.”
The group gathered for a dinner before the championship game. It was at that moment that the reunion felt surreal for some, including Joe Ashcroft.
“It hit me when we got together as a team again and our families were all there taking our pictures,” Ashcroft said. “I was overwhelmed with all the kids and wives, to me that was the most special part, to see how everyone has grown up and become fathers and men.
“It was special to share with all of our families.”
Ashcroft had his entire family with him while the team was being honored, including his four children. He went on to become a registered nurse, remaining in Arizona to work.
To this day, Aschcroft finds it hard to fathom what the team accomplished back in 1995. But even 25 years later, he still feels like it happened just the other day.
“Eddie and I have been friends for like 30 years and honestly, it’s like no time passes since we’ve seen each other,” Ashcroft said. “When we were in high school we were just focused on playing with our friends. It wasn’t until we won 20 games in a row that we thought could win the entire thing.
“It’s still hard to believe.”