$$ Desert Vista was ranked #1 in the pre-season by many fans. However the Thunder stumbled out of the gate with a losing record and all hell broke loose.
As an avid message board reader I saw all kinds of
vitriol spewed toward the team. Among the comments were the following:
(not exact quotes)
Doug Harris can't coach.
DV's guards are
Kilby and Gabbidon aren't good players.
Kilby have bad attitudes.
DV's guards are slow.
DV's guards can't
Kilby and Gabbidon have poor fundamentals and can't
DV is one of the three most disappointing teams in the
Coach Harris doesn't relate well to his players.
win the big game.
Etc., etc., etc…………………………..
What most fans
forgot though was that Desert Vista played the toughest schedule in the
state, under a new coach and new system, with guards who had little varsity
No one had any patience for the Thunder's early season
Actually, after two consecutive unsuccessful trips to the
Final Four, Desert Vista's program has been under near constant attack for
The end result of all this bashing and ridicule is a
wounded animal fiercely fighting for its life.
Senior big men Xavier Kilby and Travis Gabbidon have been stung by the criticism they've
endured. They didn't tell me this but you can feel it by watching
their play. These two don't want to leave their high school careers
behind without a state championship. No one, especially Gabbidon and
Kilby wants to be known as a two-time loser. "The third time is a
charm," is this duo's battle cry.
During the early part of this
season I felt Kilby and Gabbidon were just going through the motions.
Their inconsistent, sometimes uninspired play was symptomatic of
boredom. It was as if the two were asking why we couldn't just
dispense with the meaningless regular season and get to the playoffs.
Afterall, X & T are money players. I think that's
quite apparent after Thursday night's destruction of once #1 ranked
Highland……..at Highland no less.
Highland is an excellent basketball
team………..EXCELLENT. The Hawks played a very good game Thursday
night. However, Desert Vista played better.
Thunder guards Chris Gray, Dutch Perryman, and Josh Jolin rained 3-pointers on Highland all night
long, 8 in all. Kilby and Gabbidon played such great defense in the
2nd half they completely shut Hawk big man Ryan McCurdy down. McCurdy
had punished DV for 17 points, almost all in the 1st half. McCurdy was
silenced when it counted most.
If not for Riley McCormick's hot hand in
the 2nd half, the game would've
been a blowout.
Desert Vista is on a
mission now. You can see it, feel it, smell it, and hear it. The
players can taste it.
$$ Highland had beaten DV twice earlier in
the season, one a 41-point toasting. Most folks had penciled the Hawks
into the Final Four, which would've been their 4th consecutive
I took some heat a couple weeks ago for hanging around Central
Region games and neglecting my duties to cover the rest of the Valley
teams. Now you know why. Marcos de Niza and Desert Vista will
play each other Saturday for the Final Four spot once reserved for
$$ There was a small crowd for the start of the game but
the gym was 70% full by halftime. I finally figured out why so few
students are attending the playoff games this week.
their student game passes are invalid for state playoff games. Only
A.I.A. passes get you in for free.
I suppose $5 is a little too much of
an obstacle to support your team.
$$ I hope all us naysayers can
learn a lesson from the spunk and spirit of the Desert Vista team.
Many of us were quick to criticize before we knew all the facts about this
team. Now that the cat is out of the bag, some of us are going to have
a sheepish look on our faces.
It just simply took time to blend all the
chemistry factors together. Maybe this team is former coach Al
Merino's legacy……..him being a science teacher and all.
created this monster and Doug Harris is doing a fine job of managing it.
15 18 11 20 --
12 17 10 -- 52
DESERT VISTA - Chris Grey 21, Xavier Kilby 14,
Dutch Perryman 11, Josh Jolin 7, Travis Gabbidon 5, Chris Martinez
HIGHLAND - Riley McCormick 17, Ryan McCurdy 16, Ty Del Re 14, Nate Otis 3,
Derek Bailey 2
Desert Vista/Highland----Game Comments
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