Desert Vista/Highland----Game Comments

Desert Vista advances to Elite Eight to play region rival Marcos de Niza...

$$ 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 worthless.

Kilby and Gabbidon aren't good players.

Gabbidon and Kilby have bad attitudes.

DV's guards are slow.

DV's guards can't shoot.

Kilby and Gabbidon have poor fundamentals and can't shoot.

DV is one of the three most disappointing teams in the state.

Coach Harris doesn't relate well to his players.

DV can't 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 experience.

No one had any patience for the Thunder's early season flounders.

Actually, after two consecutive unsuccessful trips to the Final Four, Desert Vista's program has been under near constant attack for several years.

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 trip.

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 Highland.

$$  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.

It's because 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.

Merino created this monster and Doug Harris is doing a fine job of managing it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Desert Vista     15  18  11  20 -- 64
Highland          13  12  17  10 -- 52

DESERT VISTA - Chris Grey 21, Xavier Kilby 14, Dutch Perryman 11, Josh Jolin 7, Travis Gabbidon 5, Chris Martinez 3
HIGHLAND - Riley McCormick 17, Ryan McCurdy 16, Ty Del Re 14, Nate Otis 3, Derek Bailey 2

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