Last season was very difficult season to swallow for Mesa Mountain View High School's players and coaches, as the team finished with an 18-11 overall record and were unable to truly compete for a state championship - an uncommon situation for one of the state's premier basketball programs. But this season has already been much different for this group, as the team is already off to an excellent start to the 2013-2014 high school basketball season.
This week has been a very good week too for the Toros, as legendary head coach Gary Ernst would win his 800th career victory on Thursday evening - a big blowout victory over Salpointe Catholic HS in this year's VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge. Then on Friday evening, Mesa Mountain View (7-1) would win a huge win for the program - defeating St. John Bosco (CA), 66-64, on the second day of the event.
St. John Bosco came into this year's tournament as a Top 25-nationally ranked high school team this season, but has lost their first two games of the tournament to Corona Del Sol and now Mesa Mountain View.
The Mesa Mountain View team this season is comprised of four guards playing in a motion style offense, and gifted 6-foot-10, 235-pound senior post Payton Dastrup (BYU Signee) holding down the paint. Dastrup has played some of his best basketball to date this high school season, and he seems to be doing an excellent job of putting his team in a position to be successful. Dastrup is scoring around the paint and also from the perimeter, which has opened things up for many of his other teammates to get going.
As a result of Dastrup's strong play, other senior players on the team have flourished. Such players as 6-foot-1 senior guard Andy Sessions, 6-foot-2 senior Colten Meo and 6-foot-2 senior guard Austin Denham.
Dastrup recently signed a national letter of intent with Brigham Young University, but only after first giving a verbal commitment to Ohio State and then changing his mind.
"It just felt right," said Dastrup. "After I committed to Ohio State, it just felt like something was missing. I realized that I needed to go to BYU. They were my favorite program since I was a kid."
Dastrup also stated that BYU assistant coach Mark Pope was also instrumental in his decision to go to BYU.
"If he (Mark Pope) wasn't there, I wouldn't have gone there," said Dastrup.
Dastrup is a rare find among today’s college prospects, as he is a true post player with excellent physical size and strength. He also has good lift off the floor and plays the game with a professional approach to the game – taking care of his body and preparing for each contest. Dastrup recently lost weight and has trimmed his once thick frame, and now has become much more athletic and quicker off the floor.
Dastrup and this year's version of the Mesa Mountain View Toros will be tough to beat all season, as there are very few players in the state that can match up with Dastrup. Also, the well-coached and well-balanced attack on the perimeter from Mountain View, combined with their ability to shoot the basketball make them a difficult team to defend.
It could be a very good season for the Toros. Especially if the start to the season is any indication of what the end of the season might be like.