Mesa boys basketball coach Shane Burcar prefers his team use a controlled chaos to be effective.
For a game and a half, there was too much of an emphasis on control.
The top-ranked Jackrabbits returned to their free-wheeling ways in the third quarter on Thursday night, propelling them to a 61-50 victory over Mountain View in a Division I contest at Mesa.
Mesa (15-3) scored 22 points in the quarter after averaging only 11.6 in the previous six, which included a 49-47 loss to No. 2 Desert Mountain on Tuesday. Christian Harris hit three 3-pointers and D.J. Henderson had five points in the eight-minute stretch as Mesa pushed a five-point halftime lead to 12. Mountain View wouldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the way.
“Since yesterday we’ve been telling the guys, if you’ve got an open shot, shoot it,” Burcar said. “D.J., Christian, if those guys have open shots — I don’t care if it’s off the first pass or the eighth pass — I want them to shoot it.”
Henderson finished with 16 points and four steals while Harris added 13 points, all in the second half.
Henderson hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter to give the Jackrabbits a 15-point lead, but Mountain View answered with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 48-41 with 6:06 remaining.
Mesa then held the ball for long stretches, forcing the Toros (10-7) to foul. The Jackrabbits hit 10 straight free throws at one point down the stretch to ice the win.
Mesa entered the game on a two-game losing streak after winning its previous 14. The Jackrabbits only had one day to prepare after the loss to the Wolves, but were happy to return to the court.
“We actually wanted to play the day after,” Harris said.
Mountain View star forward Payton Dastrup started slowly but finished with 15 points and three blocks. Colton Meo gave the team a lift with four 3-pointers, as the Toros were within four points after his third one midway through the third quarter.
However, the Jackrabbits kept on the gas and eventually pulled away.
“I don’t want them to be robotic, thinking, ‘Is coach going to be mad at me if I shoot this?’” Burcar said. “Play fast and smart. That’s how we want to play.”