With a 3-0 region start, a boisterous homecoming crowd and a 15-point third-quarter lead, Scottsdale Horizon was living up to this year’s motto: “We’re better than you … and we know it.”
Apparently, no one told Scottsdale Desert Mountain, and if it weren’t for forward Matt Dietrich, it could have cost the Huskies the game.
Dietrich scored a game-high 26 points for Horizon, and the Huskies held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the visiting Wolves en route to a 58-55 win Friday night.
“We figured it was going to tighten up,” Horizon coach Randy Walker said. “They’ve got four or five guys that can shoot the 3.”
But it wasn’t the 3-pointer that allowed Desert Mountain (13-5, 2-2 Desert Valley Region) to erase the 12-point lead the Huskies (12-7, 4-0) carried into the fourth quarter. Forward Kyle Smith, who matched a team high with 13 points, rattled off nine unanswered points for the Wolves in the fourth. A fadeaway jumper in the lane by Smith tied the game at 52 halfway through the final period.
Four Horizon free throws – three by Dietrich – put Horizon back up 56-52 with less than two minutes remaining. But a Wolves free throw, followed by a layup by Kurt Wise, put Desert Mountain back to within 56-55 with under a minute left.
Horizon Guards Trevor Lightfoot and Matt Lincoln each hit 1 of 2 free throws, and the latter put the Huskies ahead 58-55 with nine seconds left. A 3-pointer by Smith bounced off the rim as time ran out.
“It was a very important win,” Dietrich said.
“We’re the top two teams in the Desert Valley. Desert Mountain is a very gutsy team and they can stroke the ball at will.”
Dietrich has been instrumental in Horizon’s league success. Its leading scorer, forward Alex Miller, is injured and has seen limited minutes in league play.
“Matt has been that way all year,” Walker said. “He’s as steady as they come. He’s our go-to guy right now.”
The Horizon crowd made plenty of noise all night long, and Walker said it was a big reason for his team’s win.
“The crowd was great. I wish every high school game was like this,” he said.
“The crowd was awesome,” echoed Dietrich. “It just fuels you from the get-go.”