The Gilbert Mesquite boys basketball team is on a mission, and it doesn’t matter who is in the way. The Wildcats' latest victim was North Lawndale Prep of Chicago, Ill., as Isaiah Strong led fourth-ranked Mesquite with 20 points, Jason Bower added 17 and Christian Garretson had 13 and six assists in a 71-59 win in the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge at Mesa Mountain View on Tuesday.
The Gilbert Mesquite boys basketball team is on a mission, and it doesn’t matter who is in the way.
Since a season-opening loss to Chandler Hamilton, the Wildcats have reeled off 11 straight victories against teams spread across the nation.
The streak started in Arizona, and has since included wins over teams from California, Nevada and Alabama. The latest victim was North Lawndale Prep of Chicago, Ill., an imposing collection of athletes who were no match for Mesquite’s backcourt of Isaiah Strong, Jason Garretson and Christian Bower.
Strong led fourth-ranked Mesquite with 20 points, Bower added 17 and Garretson had 13 and six assists in a 71-59 win in the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge at Mesa Mountain View on Tuesday.
“We have a backcourt that is very hard for anyone to match up with,” Mesquite coach Tom Saltzstein said.
North Lawndale crushed Chandler on Monday and jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead against Mesquite.
But the Wildcats fought back, and a 3-pointer by center Josh Amaya just before the end of the first half gave Mesquite a 28-24 lead at intermission.
Mesquite came out guns blazing in the second half, using a 29-9 run in the first seven and a half minutes to take a 57-33 lead. Strong had four 3-pointers in that stretch, and he finished 5-of-8 from behind the arc.
North Lawndale would not get the deficit below double digits the rest of the way.
North Lawndale has intimidating 7-foot center Paul Bunch in the middle and the Phoenix like to pressure the ball, but Bower said it didn’t faze the Wildcats.
“A lot of people get intimidated by looks,” Bower said. “We weren’t intimidated.”
Josh Amaya, Mesquite’s 6-foot-11 post presence, outdueled Bunch with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Bunch had eight points and three rebounds and didn’t play late in the contest.
Strong, Bower and Amaya were significant contributors to last year’s Mesquite squad that advanced to the 5A-I quarterfinals.
Bower believes this year’s team has state title potential.
“We’ve been talking since last year about this year’s team,” Bower said. “We can be great.”