Deer Valley reversed what happened to its boys basketball team last season at the state tournament on Thursday night when it took the long trip from the Northwest Valley to the East Valley as the lower seed.
The Skyhawks and coach Jed Dunn didn't care about the seeding and it showed as Deer Valley pulled away late in the third period and early in the fourth to defeat host Mesa High, 69-62, in a Division I contest at Jackrabbit Gym.
Deer Valley (21-7) advances to Saturday's 7 p.m. quarterfinals at No. 5 Sunnyslope (26-3). Deer Valley bowed to Sunnyslope, 65-45, in a section game last month. Mesa High closed out the 2013-2014 campaign 17-11.
“Last year we were the higher seed (No. 12) playing Buena (No. 21) at home and they came up and beat us,” Dunn said. “We came over here to win. That's no disrespect to Mesa. There was a big crowd andI think it works to our guys benefit. They like big crowds and that kind of atmosphere.”
Deer Valley led the entire game, although it was tied a couple times. It was a tight contest until late in the third period when the Skyhawks went on a 19-8 run from late in the third period to early in the fourth to boost a 37-34 advantage. Junior forward Rees Plummer, senior guad Deron Kyle and senior guard Jacob Stakemiller teamed up for 18 of those 19 points.
The balanced and versatile lineup Dunn rolls out produced three players in double figures and almost five. Kyle led the way with 19 points, followed by Tyler Watts (16 and Plummer (14). Stakemiller had nine points (all in the fourth period) and 6-foot-8 junior post Edward Hardt, eight, despite foul trouble that saw him sit from the middle of the third period to the middle of the fourth. Hardt and Watts fouled out in the final minutes.
“We have four guys score (average) in double figures this year,” Dunn said. “We're used to being in foul trouble. We have guys who move well enough that we can play them inside or outside. That can cause problems for teams.”
Plummer, Kyle, Stakemiller and reserve Aaron Meek all connected from three-point range. Mesa made one three through the first three quarters.
Mesa had to play hard to stay close and did, given that Deer Valley had no problem knocking down shots on a foreign floor. Deer Valley shot 60 percent from the field (24-of-40). Plummer, Kyle, Stakemiller and reserve Aaron Meek all connected from three-point range. Mesa made one three through the first three quarters.
“This is a shooter's gym,” Dunn said. The backboards are low. You get a good look.”
Mesa made a minor run in the final five minutes, cutting a 56-42 deficit to 64-57 with a 1:10 left. That was due to an exceptional fourth quarter from senior guard Christian Harris. Harris tallied 14 of his game-high 24 points in the final quarter. He connected on three 3s and a three-point play. Junior Sumeet Khara added 13 points and senior Felipe Velazco had 11.