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Les Willsey

Staff Writer,

Pinnacle deals Gilbert Christian boys hoops first defeat

Dec 26, 2012

It's been tournament time and thensome for Pinnacle's boys basketball team of late. The Pioneers played their fifth tournament game in six days Wednesday afternoon, this one their opener in the 6th annual Basketball Challenge.

That fifth game was a sight for sore eyes as Pinnacle turned in a brilliant offensive effort in the second half, dealing Gilbert Christian its first loss of the season, 83-61, at Mesa Mountain View High School.

Pinnacle (8-4), which returned to Arizona late Saturday from the inaugural Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas with a 2-2 mark among an elite field, ripped the net for 49 points in the second half. That allowed the Pioneers to break open a game they led 34-29 at halftime.

Pinnacle shot 71  percent from the field in the second half and connected on 11-of-21 threes for the game. Junior Dorian Pickens, one of four players to score in double figures, hit for 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Junior Trey Ingram (15 points), senior Drew Bender (14 points) and senior Lee Andari (10 points) were the others.

"We shared the ball and played tough defense the second half," Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said.

Ingram had five assists and Bender, in his first game back after missing nearly the entire Tarkanian Classic to injury, had four assists. Their ability to find open teammates with pinpoint passes were a huge part of the second-half explosion.

Bender, who is headed to Rice next fall, did not start the game and Wilde decided to ease him back into the lineup.

"I thought he played well," Wilde said. "It was good he got hurt only because others got the chance to step up and they did. It made us a better team, and we competed."

Gilbert Christian, the Division III state champs last year, was 12-0 prior to Wednesday and had a 30-game winning streak broken dating back to last season. The Knights stayed close for a half and few minutes more. Junior forward Sam Jones poured in 16 of his 20 points in the first half. Jones tallied just four points in the second half and only got off two shots. He finished with 20 points.

"We were letting them get off too many threes so we at least started making them settle for twos instead of threes," Wilde said. We moved Pickens over to cover (Jones) with about four minutes left in the first half. He did a nice job on him."

As it usually does, Gilbert Christian spread its scoring around. Dylan Bliss had 15 points, Keaton Ranger (12) and Roberto Reyes (10). Bliss sank four threes in the second half, which kept the Knights in the game until midway through the second half.

In other games Wednesday, Churchill (Eugene, OR) belted Salpointe, 83-43. Emanuel Morgan led Churchill (7-0) with 14 points. Teammates David Shedrick had 13 and DeShone Brooks and Malik Morgan 12 apiece. Salpoine dropped to 10-4. Hoover (San Diego, CA) turned back Red Mountain, 70-54. Sophomore forward Jordan Alexander led Hoover (12-1) with 28  points. Travis Meeker (19) and Derek Rojas (15) paced Red Mountain (10-5). Desert Vista (8-6), which also competed with Pinnacle in the Tarkanian Classic, knocked off Lexington (SC), 75-66, behind 30 points from senior point guad Greg Carter. Lexington fell to 8-4. Pacific Hills (West Hollywood, CA) held on to defeat Dobson, 74-69; UnbeatenMercer island (WA)(8-0 on the year), led pretty much the entire way in defeating Mesa Mountain View, 51-34; Defending Division I state champ Corona del Sol blitzed Waterloo Collegiate Institute (Canada), 72-36 and Gilbert High used a three by Connor Helvig in the final three seconds to edge St. John's Jesuit (Toledo, OH), 58-55.