Many of the top Division I boys basketball teams played in various preseason tournaments during Thanksgiving week.
Desert Vista didn't, but quickly got up to speed on Tuesday night.
Danny Powell had 20 points and 12 rebounds as the No. 4 Thunder opened their season with an impressive 70-55 win over top-ranked Pinnacle.
Desert Vista led by 10 at intermission, but the Pioneers scored the first four points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 32-26. After a Thunder timeout, Desert Vista went on a 21-3 run to take control and cruised to the win.
"Yesterday I felt like we were going to get plastered (in this game) just because we've been beating each other up in practice for so long," Desert Vista coach Dave Williams said. "But when we came out with such intensity, I said, ‘OK, OK.' We had some guys grow up tonight."
The Thunder were the more aggressive team throughout. Pinnacle forward Cody McDavis had 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half to keep the Pioneers within striking distance, but Desert Vista eventually pulled away.
Pinnacle went undefeated in five games to win the P.V. Invitational last week, but coach Charlie Wilde said fatigue from playing in the tournament was not a factor.
"We had no energy in that game at all," Wilde said. "We started out flat and we kind of stayed flat the whole game. We didn't get the shots we normally get, and they didn't fall down, which is very unusual. We just didn't come ready to play today."
McDavis finished with 20 points to lead Pinnacle. Jeff Lowery and Greg Carter had 10 points apiece for Desert Vista. Carter dazzled the crowd by throwing no-look passes on fast breaks and by easily getting into the lane and finding open teammates.
With Lowery and Powell, Desert Vista has two of the East Valley's better players, but Williams wants his team to win using balance and depth.
"In Arizona basketball, (there are usually) two people on the team that's really good," Williams said. "We're trying to break that mold. We're 10 or 11 kids deep."