The Jackrabbits Have a Shot at Something Special in 2018

The Mesa Jackrabbit boys basketball program is one of great tradition and one of great winning. In 2016, the program reached the mountaintop of high school basketball in Arizona by winning the Arizona State Championship. In 2017, the program could not get back there. Now, in 2018, the team is looking to make a deep run in the playoffs and to return to that same mountaintop.

“We have a chance to do something special. We have the guys to do it.” Head coach Shane Burcar said.

On Tuesday night at Dobson High School, the Mesa Jackrabbits continued to put the rest of the state’s top teams on notice that the Jackrabbits are a team that should not be overlooked.

Coach Burcar was pleased with his teams effort in their 73-54 victory over the Dobson Mustangs.

“We played well. We did a lot of positive things out there tonight. I liked the effort that the team gave tonight.” Burcar explained.

Anybody who was in attendance at the game could see that effort. The effort is something Coach Burcar and his staff preach at every practice and every game. Burcar and his staff coach the players at Mesa High extremely tough. Sometimes that “tough love” is a bit much for the players to take, but the players know that their coaches only want the best for them.

After the game the coaching staff goes through and shakes the hand of every Jackrabbit player and tells them “good game”. If the player got a little more “coaching” from Coach Burcar the coach explains why he does it.

“I just want you to bring that competitiveness every day.” Coach Burcar told a player in the locker room after the Dobson win.

Seeing that up close and personal showed me that the Mesa coach wants to maximize the talent that every player brings into his program. It is what coaching is all about to me.

At Mesa High, one of the oldest schools in the state of Arizona, it is all about tradition and being part of the “Mesa Family”. The players that play basketball or any sport at the school are made aware of that. I got to sense that togetherness on Tuesday night. From getting on the bus, to the locker room, to warm-ups, to the post game celebration, you knew that this was a team in every sense of the word.

The basketball team doesn’t have the “I” players. The Jackrabbits have the “we” players. Nobody is bigger than the program. Coaches hold players accountable and the players hold each other accountable. I saw players hug each other at different points during the pre-game, game, and post-game.

It is certainly one of the reasons why this program continues to be successful at the highest level in Arizona.

Winning also helps Coach Burcar and his staff continue to have success. Winning cures a lot right?

You bet it does. It is a source of pride at the school. Winning the state title in 2016 brought a ton of positive light to the school.

“Everybody got to see the tradition and fantastic fans we have at Mesa after winning the state championship.” Coach Burcar stated after winning the title.

It put Mesa High on the map in a way that it hadn’t for a long time.

However, it’s 2018 now, and the Jackrabbits are looking to add another trophy to the case.

“I like to win.” Coach Burcar mentioned before the game.

Against Dobson, Burcar and his staff got a pretty complete effort to get the win.

The defensive tenacity of the Jackrabbits was in full effect. Communication on their full court press and other defensive schemes made life miserable for the Mustangs on Tuesday night. Tipped passes, steals, and mishandling of the basketball by Dobson made the transition to offense easy.

Mesa has scorers. The Jackrabbits can put the ball in the basket with the best teams in the state. Mark Hatch, Zach Hobbs, and Xavier Fuller lead Mesa in scoring on Tuesday night. Zach Hobbs, who has one of the smoothest basketball strokes I have seen had 21 points. Mark Hatch, whos ball handling and great court awareness provide a sense stability had 19 points. Xavier Fuller, the athletic man in the middle, also chipped in 16 points.

The rebounding edge also went in favor of the Jackrabbits. Mesa beat Dobson on the boards by a 21-19 edge.

When you can score and also win the rebounding battle it provides a winning recipe.

At the end of the day, the Mesa Jackrabbits are not going to give an inch to anybody. The Jackrabbits come to compete and they come to win. It is why everybody at Mesa High says “Fear the Hop”.