All streaks must come to a close, and Pinnacle's boys basketball team ended one with clutch shots, calm nerves and a cool outside shooter.
Pinnacle's dynamic duo of Dorian Pickens and Drew Bender did their damage, but Trey Ingram's 25 points (including four 3-pointers) and eight free throws in the final minute stood up as the Pioneers won the first go-round with rival-Desert Mountain, 67-62, on Monday in the final boys game of the MLK Basketball Classic at Wells Fargo Arena.
Ranked No. 3 as of Monday's power rankings, Desert Mountain saw its 12-game winning streak end as the Pioneers - nearing the end of a five-games-in-six-days stretch - have won five consecutive games.
Both are top-10 teams in Division I and that's not likely to change, not now and not before they meet again to end the regular season on Feb. 1.
A close, physical game most of the way, the Pioneers trailed most of the night until early in the fourth quarter.
Unable to stop Desert Mountain point guard Rolando Rhymes from driving to the basket to set up himself (game-high 28 points) or others (eight rebounds, three assists), the Pioneers finally found their answers with Pickens, Bender and Ingram all hitting 3-pointers in the final quarter.
The Pioneers took a 50-47 lead early in the fourth, then extended it to 54-49 before Desert Mountain closed the gap to 61-58 on a driving layup by Rhymes.
But the Pioneers got a blocked shot from Pickens-turned-3-pointer by Bender - who's had ankle issues the past couple weeks limiting his effectiveness - on a nifty pass from Pickens after he blocked a Desert Mountain shot. That gave Pinnacle a 59-54 lead with two minutes left. The Wolves came up empty in the next minute's worth of possessions and were forced to foul.
"He's improved his (3-point) shooting this year and the ankle might actually be a part of it," Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said of Bender. "How about the pass from Dorian after he hit a couple in a row? Your two best players making plays and decisions like that is a big help."
The Pioneers iced it hitting 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute, something they struggled with late in losing a two-point game to Chaparral two weeks ago. Pinnacle was 19 of 22 from the free throw line for the game, led by Pickens' 9 of 10.
"You make them and you'll win," Wilde said.
Desert Mountain was 3 of 8 from the stripe. The Wolves also lamented 19 turnovers and struggled to score with anyone other than Rhymes.
"We didn't deserve to win," said Desert Mountain coach Todd Fazio, who noted his team's struggles in so-called "big games" outside a two-point win against Mesa earlier this season.
Brant Carter had nine points (all 3-pointers) for Desert Mountain while Mark Andrews had 11 points and eight rebounds. Despite 6-for-18 shooting from beyond the arc, Pickens finished with 17 points, four assists and three steals, and Bender had 13.
The Pioneers get Horizon on Tuesday to end their brutal stretch of games - which also allows them to catch up in power rankings - while Desert Mountain is at Chaparral.
"(Winning streak) is not our goal and another winning streak isn't our goal," Fazio said. "I'm a 'process' guy, and hopefully this is part of that in taking us where we want to go."
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.