Coach Sets Arizona Record With Win No. 775
The Arizona Republic, Richard Obert
Now, after Mesa Mountain View gave coach Gary Ernst all-time state-record boys basketball victory No. 775 Thursday night, it can focus on working toward capturing a second consecutive state title.
The historic win came against Tucson Rincon, 66-50, the school Ernst's Chandler High team beat in the 1976 state championship game for the first of his eight state titles, the last seven at Mountain View.
Among his former players in the large crowd at Mountain View was Dale Horine, who played on Ernst's 1976 state title team.
Afterwards, Mountain View Principal Craig Luketich and Athletic Director Shawn Rustad presented a gold trophy in the shape of a basketball to Ernst, who stood next to his wife at midcourt. Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director Harold Slemmer then presented the game ball to Ernst, who has been coaching for more than 40 years with no sign of slowing down.
In typical Ernst humility, he was more concerned about his team than his own record.
"This is a new group of kids," Ernst said. "I want them to go as far as they can."
Ernst passed former Tucson Sahuaro coach Dick McConnell, whom Ernst's Chandler team beat in the 1976 state semifinals.
"He's just a great coach, and a great gentleman," Ernst said. "I was lucky enough to be there."
Mountain View (21-7), which moves on to Saturday's second round of the Division I state tournament, got the pressure off quickly, jumping out to a 12-3 lead in the first five minutes. Brian Butler hit two 3-pointers and power forward Camyn Boone drove in for a couple of baskets.
"It's great to be a part of that," said Boone, who had 16 points. "Coach Ernst is a great guy, and I'm happy for him.
"He put no pressure on us at all."
The lead was 16 at the half, and by 19 with 3:21 left in the game.
"He told us not to think about the record," said 6-foot-8 sophomore center Payton Dastrup, whose inside presence opened up the perimeter for guards Jeff Kerr and Mitch Wallace. "He's not about show. He's all about building good character, building good programs."
Rincon coach Rich Utter, who coached against both McConnell and Ernst, sees the similarities in coaching styles.
"When you're successful and you've been doing it that long, you know what works, and his team showed that tonight," Utter said.