Lost in the lather created by the unruly fan during last weekend’s Dobson-Mesquite girls basketball game was a statement of sorts made by the Wildcats themselves.
Longtime coach Candice Gonzalez’s team roared out to a big lead and wasn’t seriously threatened on the scoreboard all night. A 70-59 win over No. 2 Dobson was the result, but the Wildcats had a 10-point lead at halftime, and then stretched it to 20 points during the third quarter.
In Division I, everyone, it seems, is chasing Desert Vista this season, and rightfully so given what the undefeated Thunder has done. That group includes Dobson — which undoubtedly remains a championship contender — along with the Mustangs and a handful of others.
Momentum built the past two seasons has continued, as evident by the Wildcats beating Dobson (which crushed Mesquite in both meetings last season) and Highland (the Hawks are admittedly inexperienced this year, but won three times over Mesquite in 2012-2013, including twice by a single point).
Senior guard Cecily Wilson is having a banner year, as are fellow seniors Alliyah Bryant and Rebeccah Tilley leading a senior-heavy roster. But the Wildcats are also getting significant contributions from its bench and sophomore class Alexis Springfield and Izzy Spruit.
There’s still a long way to go before sizing up the state tournament field — Mesquite still has to play Div. II power Seton Catholic and a has big date with Desert Vista on Jan. 24 — and with seedings changing daily (sometimes drastically) and upcoming section tournaments, nobody is making declarations.
Except, to a degree, Mesquite, because the Wildcats’ steady rise back to prominence this year is about three years in the making, reminiscent of the mid-to-late-2000s, and more.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.