Mesquite and Hamilton will be without a starter each Wednesday in the first round of the 5A Division I boys state basketball tournament after each had a player ejected in their Fiesta Region title game on Saturday at Mesquite High.
Mesquite’s loss is leading scorer, rebounder and triregion player of the year Will Donahue. Hamilton loses forward Derek Meyer. The pair tangled in the third period of Mesquite’s 61-38 victory. Their ejection brings an automatic one-game suspension that will be served Wednesday. Mesquite, the No. 6 seed, plays host to No. 11 Brophy. No. 12 Hamilton visits No. 5 St. Mary’s. Donahue is averaging 18 points and nearly 13 rebounds a game. Meyer is averaging about five points and five rebounds a game.
‘‘Both of them are physical players,’’ Hamilton coach Kevin Hartwig said. ‘‘Donahue threw (the ball) off Derek’s head and he (Derek) walked after him. They are both aggressive and they battle. I feel bad for both of them. But you have to keep control of your emotions.’’
Mesquite coach Tom Saltzstein was unhappy with the decision to eject the players, feeling there was no intent to hurt or start anything by either player.
‘‘I asked the official if he knew the ramifications of this,’’ Saltzstein said. ‘‘He told me not to tell him what to do.
“We’re down a guy averaging 18 (points) and 13 (rebounds), and Hamilton’s down a guy they need as a physical presence against the big kid from St. Mary’s.’’
Added Hartwig: ‘‘When you play three times and you’re in the same region, emotions run high. Both of us will have to go on and do what we can to make it to the next round.’’
Fountain Hills’ Tyler Ruch isn’t playing with the Falcons this week in the state basketball tournament because of a back problem. Ruch, though, should be fine for the upcoming baseball season, according to Falcons coach Mike Briguglio.
Ruch is a star pitcher and outfielder who is headed to Kansas State on a baseball scholarship next season. Briguglio figures Ruch may miss a game or two before he is ready to play.
Former Pinnacle outfielder Jill Malina is on the University of Arizona team this season.
Attending UA on an academic scholarship, Malina, a freshman who was a member of the 2005 All-Tribune team, was impressive during fall tryouts and accepted a role as manager.
After the Wildcats got into full practices early last month with just eight returning players from their 2005 College World Series team and only a dozen players overall, the Arizona staff sought a few walkon reserves to fill out the roster.
“We got into practices and realized we were pretty thin,” UA associate coach Larry Ray said, adding that while Malina’s currently slated to pinchrun and fill out practice situations, she’s just an injury away from regular playing time.
- Tribune writers Brett Fera and Brad Falduto contributed.