Mesquite girls basketball coach Candice Gonzales will remember her team's 70-59 victory over Dobson at Dobson High on Friday night for the right reason.
Her team played well, grabbed the lead early and stuck to its lead throughout. They continued to improve offensively as a team from the early weeks and fought off one bid in the third period by Dobson that challenged its lead. The game, however, sustained a black eye from a fan-initiated incident late in the second period that took away from two Division I title contenders.
Mesquite (13-3, 7-0 power-ranking games) led 29-20 with 1:34 left in the first half when Dobson's Dyesha Stahley and Mesquite's Alliyah Bryant collided at midcourt. Stahley appeared to initiate the contact, but Bryant was called for a foul. As the teams began to line up at Dobson's free-throw line for Stahley to shoot free throws, a Mesquite parent made his way from behind Mesquite' bench to the Dobson bench and chest-bumped Dobson coach Tyler Dumas. That brought a large gathering of players and and fans behind Dobson's bench to the floor around Dobson's bench with a couple other fracases breaking out.
Order was restored, but Dobson administrators and Mesa police called in decided to clear the gym of all spectators other than players and cheer squads already in attendance. Mesa police made sure the parking lot area was cleared after banishing fans to their cars. The game was delayed for nearly half an hour.
"I don't think the delay affected anything," Dumas said. "The game and the fan disruption were too separate things. Mesquite beat us in every way. Beat us to loose balls, out-rebounded us. ..
"It's too bad what happened. It was a great atmosphere. Two good teams that are competing for a state championship. It gets ruined by a parent decision."
Gonzales agreed for the most part that the interruption didn't have a huge affect.
"We may have been rattled a little at first because a couple of our players' parents were involved in it," Gonzales said.
As for Mesquite's performance, well, it was solid. The Lady Wildcats avenged 63-54 loss to Dobson the first week of the season at the Highland Thanksgiving Tournament.
What seemed to kick-start Mesquite was a four-point play by reserve guard Isabelle (Izzy) Spruit. Spruit, a sophmore, sank a three and made a free throw that boosted Mesquite's lead to 9-3, which rose to 13-5 after the first eight minutes. Senior Cecily Wilson (game-high 19 points) and Rebecca Tilley took over in the second period combining for 16 points. Their offense bumped the lead a bit more to 31-21 at the half. Mesquite also got 16 points from guard Alexis Springfield -- 11 in the second half.
Mesquite's zone defense gave Dobson (16-2, 8-1 prg) problems throughout. Dobson was 2-of-17 from the field in the first period. The Lady Mustangs hung around hitting three 3s in the second quarter, but made no head way.
With the gym quieter, even sedate, Dobson managed a run that sliced Mesquite's lead to 39-35 with 4:25 left in the third. Mesquite went to work on the perimeter using a 19-4 spurt the rest of the period to open up a 58-39 advantage. Spruit made three 3s in the third period -- Mesquite made five in all in the quarter. Spruit finished with 13 points. Dobson had two players score in double figures. Miyah Leith had 18 and Alexis Todd finished with 13.