It took a little time, but Mesa High's boys basketball team is on the rebound.
Senior guard Donte Medder took command of things in the second half Tuesday night, producing a splendid all-around game in helping the Jackrabbits rally for a 66-53 triumph over visiting Mesa Dobson.
Mesa, which 10 days ago had to forfeit six wins for violating an AIA recruiting bylaw as 5A-I East Valley Region play began, has now reeled off three straight region wins to improve to 3-1 in region after the first round of region play. Counting its forfeits, Mesa is now 3-17 overall, but the 3-1 record puts it in a tie for first with Mesa Mountain View.
"We're using our strength, which is quickness," Mesa coach Shane Burcar said. "Donte's a big part of that. I don't know if there's a better guard in the state handling the ball."
Medder scored a game-high 27 points, a half-dozen more than his season average. He tallied 20 of those in the second half, 10 in each of the third and fourth quarters.
Dobson held a 28-25 lead as the second half began and Medder, who scored seven points in the opening period but was silent in the second, wasted little time in jump-starting the 'Rabbits. He drove for a layup on Mesa's first possession, which touched off a 9-0 run that put the Jackrabbits ahead to stay, 34-28, with 4:50 left in the third. Medder zig-zagged through Dobson defenders the entire second half, scoring often by finishing with the left hand. If he didn't finish a hoop, he dished it to freshman Danny Powell (15 points), senior Lorenzo Velasco (12) or junior Kyler Fackrell for layups.
A key play came midway through the final period when Dobson came up with a steal and appeared to have a layup by Casey Benford that would have cut Mesa's lead to four points. Medder was involving there, too, swatting the ball off the glass in what should have been a goaltending. Mesa got the rebound, and Medder ended up with a layup to put Mesa ahead by eight. Dobson's bid at a comeback was over.
"We didn't defend him real well," Dobson coach Rick McConnell said. "We're struggling. We're not making the simple basketball decisions we need to be. But good players like Medder will cause you to make mistakes."
Dobson (10-9, 1-3) was paced by junior center John Bailey, who scored 20 points. Dobson's guards chipped in four 3s (Cole Thurston (2), Kyle Heck and Jarrett Green) in the first half, which allowed the Mustangs to grab the lead at intermission and balance their offense with Bailey inside. Thurston finished with 10 points.