The Mountain View underclassmen who will be trying for a repeat next year did the most Saturday night to help their senior teammates who missed out on a title shot last year clutch the 5A championship trophy this year.
Junior forward Stephen Rogers, sophomore center Harper Kamp and sophomore guard Kendall Wallace combined for 54 points guiding the Toros to 69-53 victory over Phoenix St. Mary's in the 5A boys basketball championship game at Glendale Arena.
‘‘We told the seniors that this (season) is for them,’’ Rogers, a 6-foot-8 forward who confounded and surprised the Knights with his 22-point output that included four 3-pointers. ‘‘In warm-ups I was kind of struggling. I came out shooting well in the game, and I wanted to stay in the zone when I got my shots.’’
The championship was the first for Mountain View since 1999 when the Toros knocked off Tucson Salpointe. It’s the fourth boys basketball championship in school history. All are under current coach Gary Ernst. Wallace, the first Toro off the bench, poured in 18 points. Kamp had his usual steady offensive game with 14 points.
‘‘It was the worst feeling last year to lose in the semifinals,’’ said Mountain View senior David Burrows, the only starter back this season. ‘‘Everybody went out there and did what they were supposed to do. We wanted to get it to Harper when we could, and then let things happen off of that.’’
The game began markedly different than Mountain View’s semifinal win over Glendale Deer Valley on Friday. Instead of a big lead, the Toros found themselves trailing 9-2 with 4:35 left in the first period and called timeout. To make matters worse, St. Mary’s standout Jerryd Bayless had been in the game just 35 seconds of that span and hadn’t done any of the scoring. The Knights made four of their first five field goals while Mountain View was connecting on 1-of-8.
After the timeout, Mountain View (32-1) posted a 19-0 run that made it 21-9 midway through the second quarter. During that stretch St. Mary's was 0-for-14 from the field. The Knights (25-7) made 4-of-25 shots after their 4-for-5 beginning. Conversely, Mountain View shot 60 percent combined in the second and third quarters to make the brief Knights runs ring hollow.
‘‘At times tonight we were unbelievable and other times we had trouble getting the ball across half court,’’ Ernst said. ‘‘It was nice to see us shoot the ball the way we have much of the season. Stephen had a fabulous game offensively and rebounding. And Kendall. We weren't sure if he was going to play until just before the game.’’
Bayless, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, struggled as every Knight did shooting the first half. But he heated up in the third quarter, scoring 11 of his 25 points to keep St. Mary's breathing. Bayless converted a three-point play with 3:21 left in the third quarter that pulled his team within 32-30. A 14-4 spurt keyed by Rogers and Wallace finished the Knights. Wallace and Rogers each hit 3s to bump the lead to 38-30, prompting a St. Mary's timeout. When play resumed, Wallace made a steal and then a behind-the-back pass to Rogers for a dunk that paved the way to a 46-34 lead with one period left. That margin grew to the biggest of the night (59-40) with 3:46 left after Wallace made two free throws courtesy of a technical foul on Bayless.