Rolando Rhymes fancies himself a Division I prospect once he leaves high school.
At that level, he knows getting guarded by 6-foot-6 defenders with help from 6-foot-10 posts will be the norm.
This, then, might be a highlight tape to keep handy.
Desert Mountain’s 5-foot-11 point guard slithered through the towering defense of Mesa all night, finishing with 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting to lead the No. 2 Wolves to a 49-47 boys basketball victory over the top-ranked Jackrabbits in a Division I power point game on Tuesday night at Mesa.
Isaac Allen missed a jump hook with two seconds left and Mark Andrews secured the rebound as Desert Mountain held on. Rhymes scored the team’s final nine points of regulation and was the team’s only player in double figures, regularly darting into the lane and scoring over the outstretched arms of Allen (6-10) and Felipe Velazco (6-6).
“It was good,” Rhymes said. “It betters me for the Division I level. That’s all a guard like me is going to see.”
The game was close throughout, as Desert Mountain’s biggest lead was eight and Mesa’s four.
The Jackrabbits moved to No. 1 in the state for the first time this week following a loss by Laveen Cesar Chavez, while Desert Mountain moved up to No. 2. Now if the Wolves finish the week undefeated, they will be in line for the top spot.
However, coach Todd Fazio didn’t want to put any extra emphasis on the victory.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is a big win, especially on the road, but this is just all part of the process for us,” Fazio said. “If they hit a 3 at the end, that doesn’t take away all the stuff that led up to that. We just focus on that. We’re happy we won but we know it’s part of the process of a long season.”
Allen played well for Mesa, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
The Jackrabbits took a 41-40 lead on an Allen bucket with 4:51 remaining and the game was tied at 43 with 3:02 left, but Rhymes scored on back-to-back possessions and the Wolves held on.
Mesa held Desert Mountain’s second leading scorer, Diego Magana, to two points, but the decision to guard the Wolves’ shooters closely allowed Rhymes enough room to navigate in the paint.
“Diego’s gotten shots in the past because Rolando can penetrate and finish, so teams have to help with that,” Fazio said. “And it’s vice-versa. Because Diego can shoot, that opens up lanes for Rolando. It’s like a relationship. I tell them they’re husband and wife. They have to work together in order to have success.”
D.J. Henderson hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter to give the Jackrabbits a two-point lead and finished with 11 points.
Andrews had seven points and seven rebounds for Desert Mountain.