The ghost of Matt Carlino on display in Arizona basketball playoffs
On the night that Cougar guard Matt Carlino hung 30 points on the Portland Pilots, I was watching history repeat itself at the Gilbert Highland High School gym where five years before, then sophomore Carlino was filling the Hawks' score sheet.
Carlino was paired with another sophomore phenom, Nick Johnson, and Carlino's dad, Mark, former Arizona State star, was their coach. The Highland team went 29-4 that year, and lost in the Arizona State Championship game to Phoenix St. Mary's.
Carlino left Highland the next year, and after a circuitous route through Bloomington, Ind., and UCLA, he fortuitously landed in BYU's lap. Johnson also left and went to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, and then on to star for the Arizona Wildcats. Their one-year legacy left a significant footprint on Arizona basketball. Two future college stars were on display in that gym in 2009.
Now fast forward to 2014.
My son Ryan and I went to the Highland-Mesa Mountain View game Feb. 22 to root for the Mountain View Toros where he had played for legendary coach Gary Ernst in the 1990s. We also went to see two outstanding players. In this case, both are destined for BYU after their LDS Church missions.
The talents of the two stars were on full display at the Highland gym. Mountain View center Payton Dastrup scored 24 points and was credited with seven blocks, although I thought that I counted at least 10. The big and smooth center led the Toros to an 85-68 win.
The team advanced to play top-seeded Tempe Corona del Sol at Arizona State. Highland Hawks forward Jake Toolson scored 43 points, 25 of them in the fourth quarter in a valiant comeback effort that fell short.
It seemed like every time I checked the Internet on my cellphone to see how the Cougars were doing, Carlino had hit a 3-pointer. I usually checked twice to see that it wasn't just a repeat of the previous shot, but the good news just kept on coming. That is what I am looking forward to, with the BYU basketball future in the hands of Dastrup, Toolson, and other future stars. I want to hear "the good news just keeps on coming."
If history truly repeats itself, BYU fans may see some 30-point nights from one or both of these future Cougars when they don the blue and white.
Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the '60s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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