Gilbert boys beat Mesquite to reach semis - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Gilbert boys beat Mesquite to reach semis

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Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2009 10:05 pm | Updated: 2:41 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

It started with a healthy dose of Seth Taylor. It ended with a sprinkling of Elliott Clark. In between, there was some Shawn King, Francisco Ahumada and Eric Donzella mixed in.

The final result was that Gilbert High's boys basketball team avenged a pair of regular-season losses to Fiesta Region rival Gilbert Mesquite, knocking out the Wildcats on Saturday night with a 75-72 victory in the 5A Division I quarterfinals at Mesquite.

Gilbert (17-11), the No. 13 seed, pulled off its second straight tournament road win.

"Seth Taylor is our guts and our glory," Gilbert coach Jay Caserio said. "He's got a lot of heart. He came out strong."

Taylor scored Gilbert's first eight points, showing a knack for losing his defender - or not having a defender on him. He sank a wide-open layup, hit baseline jumpers from both sides and tacked on a putback.

That helped Gilbert build a 33-23 lead in the first half.

Mesquite, which sank 13 3-pointers, pulled within 50-47 to begin the fourth period. But the lead grew to 10 again thanks to back-to-back baskets by Ahumada with 5:30 left to play. The bulk of the 3-pointers then came pouring down on the Tigers and bringing Mesquite back.

Mesquite guards Christian Bower (game-high 24 points), Isaiah Strong (21 points) and Braden Tilley sank a pair of treys each in the final five minutes, but the Wildcats couldn't get closer than three.

That's because down the stretch, Gilbert was torrid from the free-throw line. The Tigers were 16-for-19 from the stripe in the final three minutes, with Clark making all eight of his attempts and Donzella going 5-for-6.

Clark, the Tigers' leading scorer on the season, was bottled up from the perimeter all night by the defense of Tilley and Strong. But rather than force bad shots, Clark gave the ball up to teammates who were open and mostly on the mark. Clark attempted just six shots and made only one.

All five Gilbert starters scored in double figures, led by Ahumada with 17 and King with 16. Donzella, Taylor and Clark finished with 11 points each.

"I don't know if we took them lightly or what," Mesquite coach Tom Saltzstein said. "They were a different team than we saw two weeks ago. They played better defense and rebounded better than we did. That was the difference."

Mesquite finished the season 15-11.

The Tigers advance to face top-seeded Gilbert Highland in Wednesday's 7:45 p.m. semifinal at Arena in Glendale. Highland edged Chandler, 67-66, in overtime Saturday.

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[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]