It’s hard to believe the high level of basketball played by Pinnacle and Mesa on Friday night was only a sectional semifinal game.
It very well could have been the state semifinals — or more.
Dorian Pickens blocked a lay-up attempt by D.J. Henderson with under 15 seconds to play to help the No. 2 Pioneers knock off the No. 3 Jackrabbits, 76-73, in a Division I, Section III semifinal boys basketball matchup at Chaparral.
A slow start in power point games dropped the Pioneers to a No. 4 seed in the section tournament, but the team has now won 12 straight. It was hotly contested throughout — the referees had to bring the coaches together near midcourt in the fourth quarter to calm the players — and it could be a preview of a playoff rematch.
“That was the most heated basketball game I’ve ever been a part of for high school,” Pinnacle senior forward Drew Bender said. “It was fun, though. We’re two really good teams and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw each other in the state championship.”
The Pioneers (22-6) held a six-point lead with under two minutes remaining until a 3-pointer by Henderson cut the deficit in half. Bender missed a reverse lay-up on the other end and Henderson was fouled after grabbing the rebound.
He hit a pair of free throws to cut Pinnacle’s lead to 72-71 with just under a minute to play, but Trey Ingram pushed it back to three by hitting a pair from the charity stripe with 41.7 seconds left.
The Jackrabbits chose to go for two out of a timeout and Christian Harris missed a mid-range jumper. Henderson got the rebound and sliced into the lane but was rejected by Pickens, starting a fast break for an easy lay-up by Ingram to ice the game.
“He always comes up with a timely play at the end of the game,” Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said of Pickens. “He’s big-time that way.”
Pinnacle will face off with No. 5 Desert Mountain on Saturday night at Chaparral for the Section III title.
Bender had a game-high 20 points and six rebounds. Pickens added 15 points, nine rebounds and the crucial block.
Henderson had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists while Harris added 19.
Both teams should finish in the top-8 in the Division I power rankings, which will afford them a first-round bye.
Desert Mountain 59, Mountain View 52: The Wolves hit 11 3-pointers, built up a 16-point lead after three quarters and cruised to the victory. Diego Magana led the way with 15 points, while Rolando Rhymes added 13. Mountain View lost the first two meetings between these teams and tried using a 2-3 zone to slow the Desert Mountain attack, but the Wolves hit their outside shots and gradually pulled away. Payton Dastrup had 19 points and seven rebounds but didn’t get enough support. Desert Mountain trailed 2-0 early but never again. The Wolves (23-4) have lost both of their matchups with Pinnacle this season heading into the sectional final. Desert Mountain likely clinched a top-8 seed with the victory. Mountain View probably drops from the top-8 with the loss, which would force the Toros into a first-round playoff game.