Mesa High used a third-quarter surge and Gilbert High a fourth-period outburst to earn berths Wednesday night in the finals of the Fear the Hop Tournament at Mesa High School.
Donte Medder and Blondy Baruti combined for 23 of Mesa’s 26 points in the third quarter as the Jackrabbits ran away from Tempe Corona del Sol and defeated the Aztecs, 66-51, in the final semifinal game of the night. Prior to that, Gilbert rallied to best defending 5A-I state champ Phoenix Desert Vista, 52-42.
Mesa (2-0) faces Gilbert (2-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday for the tournament title. Mesa knocked off Phoenix North Canyon Tuesday night and Gilbert won its first game by rallying past Mesa Dobson.
Mesa, which grabbed an early 13-4 lead on Corona, saw that advantage melt to a 26-25 lead at halftime. But Medder, the Jackrabbits’ veteran guard from last year’s 5A-I East Valley Region championship squad and Baruti, a 6-foot-9 center and junior from the Congo, teamed up to blitz Corona.
Medder scored 14 of his game-high 28 points in the period. He drove to the basket for points at will and hit a couple pullup 3-pointers in the period. Baruti tallied nine of his 10 points and unofficially added eight blocked shots. Mesa stretched its lead to 52-39 heading to the final quarter and was never threatened by the Aztecs.
Andrew Fox paced Corona del Sol with 12 points. Corona takes on Desert Vista at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for third place.
For Gilbert, it was the second game in a row coach Jay Caserio’s squad came up big in the fourth period. The Tigers trailed Dobson by five late in Tuesday’s game and ended up winning by five (68-63). On Wednesday, Desert Vista held a 36-33 lead heading to the fourth period and that’s when the Tigers revved up their game. Junior forward Shawn King again led the charge. King finished with a game-high 24 points, tallying seven of those in the fourth quarter. A 10-0 run over a four-minute span of the final period took Gilbert from a 38-37 deficit to a 47-38 lead.
Gilbert’s Francisco Ahumada added 14 points for the Tigers. Marcus Lever paced Desert Vista with 14 points.
In Wednesday’s consolation bracket games, Scottsdale Desert Mountain knocked off North Canyon, 47-33, and Dobson pulled away in the final period to defeat Gilbert Mesquite, 70-59. North Canyon and Mesquite play for seventh place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Dobson faces Desert Mountain at 4 p.m. for fifth place. All games will be played at Mesa High.