Mesa hoops

The numbers of those who were involved in Mesa High’s 2016 boys’ basketball 6A championship team continue to dwindle.

The Jackrabbits have made the playoffs in the two seasons since, but exited in the first round both times. With a new coach, Scott Stansberry, the seniors – freshman during that championship run – have one more chance to carry on the legacy.

Senior Tony Adame was on the Jackrabbits’ freshmen team in 2015-16 and remembers sitting after practice studying the varsity’s best players.

“Every day we just watched, and I really look up to them looking back on it now, seeing the effort and what they did every day, all the small things. It makes me want to get back there,” Adame said.

Stansberry, former coach at Apache Junction, was a long-time assistant at Mesa High and is familiar with the roster. He coached many of them as middle-schoolers in summer camps.

His Jackrabbits opened with six wins in their first seven games going into a Dec. 6 contest with Perry.

He calls former coach Shane Burcar one of his mentors yet when he took the job in May, Stansberry implemented his own style, a faster-paced offense.

Stansberry said it was difficult because Mesa had played a slower game for so long. However, even if the coaching techniques and style of play are different, he knows the players and community expect winning.

“I think it was just them hearing a new voice that was difficult. Even though I’d been here, it’s been a few years since I left so I haven’t coached a lot of these guys in high school,” Stansberry said. “But, I know the culture here and the expectations, and those haven’t changed. I knew what I was walking into.”

Zach Hobbs, a senior and second-year captain, moved up to the varsity and was part of the championship run. He acknowledges that his biggest challenge is becoming a vocal leader.

He called the transition into the new system “a little awkward.” Success in summer leagues as well as hours spent in the off season cementing details now have the team confident they can make another run.

“We’re all pretty skilled, pretty well-rounded, with a lot of guys that can shoot and we like to get out in transition and run,” Hobbs said.

Adame added, “When everybody’s a threat on the floor, and we can all shoot, we can spread the floor some. Then, hopefully, that opens up some space for us to drive and get to the basket, but also kick out to keep shooting.

“And when that happens, I think we can be a rea

Red Mountain

The Mountain Lions reached the 6A quarterfinals last season, falling to Desert Vista and ending 19-10.

Cameron Oltmans takes the reigns as coach. Red Mountain must replace the scoring and rebounding of graduated Timmy Allen, who was among the state’s top players.

Skyline

The Coyotes posted a 14-13 record last season, when strength of schedule got them into the playoffs. They were defeated by state runner-up Mountain Pointe by 22 points in the first round.

Skyline’s top three scorers all return. Patrick Herrera averaged 11.6 points as a freshman. Dayton Harris, a junior, scored 11 a game, and led the team in assists (4.1). Donovan Jackson, a senior, averaged 10.9 points.

Mountain View

Mountain View won just one more game than it lost (13-12) and missed the playoffs.

The Toros lost six seniors to graduation. Returning dual-sport athletes had more time to practice early with the basketball team this season because the Toros missed the playoffs.

Dobson

The Mustangs went 12-13 but won four of their final six games.

Forward Juhlawnei Stone, last season’s leader in scoring (14.6) and rebounds (8.3), will bear the offensive load again. No other returning player averaged more than 1.3 points.

Westwood

Westwood lost 15 of its final 16 games en route to a 6-19 record. It also lost four of its top five scorers.

It is rebuilding again. Scoring and assists leader, Timmy Johnson, a senior, returns. Westwood is counting on last season’s bench players and JV call-ups to improve drastically, or it could be another tough year.

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