Carson leads Mesa to the upset

The final score may have been a surprise, but Jahii Carson's performance was par for the course. Playing on his future home court, the Jackrabbits' guard scored 31 points and dished out eight assists as fifth-ranked Mesa upset top-ranked Mountain View 67-60 in the MLK Classic held at Wells Fargo Arena.

"It feels good to come out here and have the Sun Devil fans support me," said Carson who will don the maroon and gold next season. "It gives me a lot of confidence to come out here and show what I got for next year."

The first half was certainly no prelude to Carson's performance. The Mesa standout picked up three fouls, including one technical, and was 5 of 15 from the field with two turnovers. The Toros led 34-28 at halftime and had a 22-9 advantage on the boards.

"They did a triangle-and-two to us right off the bat," Mesa coach Shane Burcar stated. So maybe it was harder for (Carson) to get the ball."

"The first half was rough because I was trying to get into the flow of the game," Carson explained. "The second half I was more in the flow, our defense stepped up. When our defense is picking up everything else gets picked up for us. I won't say I'm carrying the team but I am leading them."

A modest statement for someone who had 19 of his squad's 39 second half points as well as six assists in the last 16 minutes of the contest. Mesa shot 59.1 percent in the second stanza and overall forced Mountain View into 18 turnovers.

The guard admitted that he may have had a little bit of home court advantage despite a crowd that was mostly rooting for the Toros.

"I'm here all the time and I see the atmosphere," Carson remarked. "I had my high schools fans here, my parents…we came here with confidence today. Our team is really playing well so far."

Burcar is naturally elated to have not only a gifted player, but also such a charismatic leader that is likeable just as much by his teachers as he is by his teammates.

"He can score 40 points and everybody will hug him," Burcar commented. "Some teams can't do that. Last year he scored 23.5 (points per game). He could have 30 last year but we had other players that can make plays. He's very coachable; he's passing the ball and his biggest improvement in on defense."

2004 marked the last time Mesa won a state championship. Engineering a comeback win against one of the best teams in the state has to be considered a statement game.

Or is it?

"I think every game is a statement game," Burcar claimed. "It's just Mountain View Mesa and it doesn't matter if it's June or January. It's a ball game. Our defense is what changed everything."

"I don't feel like it's an upset," Carson said. "I think we have been playing pretty good and we are tough to beat. They are a rival school and they are undefeated (in-state) so I won't say an upset, but just a good win.

"To come here and get this win at my future school is huge for us."

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