There were two fantastic match ups at the highest classification of high school basketball in Arizona on Saturday and they didn’t disappoint.
Starting with the girls, the Desert Vista Thunder had gone undefeated for most of the 2013-14 season before dropping two games in the ladder stages of the stages of the season. They met up with a fast and feisty Westview Knights team that had been causing all of their opponents fits in the state tournament.
Westview came out fast and controlled the tempo of the game right from the start. The bursted out to an 11-4 advantage after the first quarter.
“Focus, stop settling for jump shots and go inside,” said Desert Vista Head Coach Jontar Coleman on what his team’s adjustments were after the first quarter. “If we attacked the basket and go inside, that’s going to leave Kristine wide open.”
And that is what the Thunder did. They worked the ball down low to junior Kristine Anigwe as often as the could and it would prove to be the difference in the game. She would finish the game with 25 points and 17 rebounds in a dominating performance.
“It feels great,” Anigwe said. “I am so happy for our team, our coach and all those who’ve supported us along the way. I am just so happy that we are here right now.”
Desert Vista would take the lead before halftime and then would never look back. They win the state championship defeating Westview 53-37.
The next game on the floor at Jobing.com Arena was an instant classic in the state of Arizona. It was a rematch of last year’s state title matchup between the Pinnacle Pioneers, seeking their first ever championship, against Corona del Sol looking for their third in a row.
Pinnacle led early but Corona would lead by as many as nine in the first half and would hold a six point lead at halftime.
After a third quarter which saw Pinnacle battle back to tie it, the fourth quarter would be as Corona Coach Sammy Duane Jr. called it, “a roller coaster going 100 miles an hour.”
Pinnacle would lead by as many as five, Corona would battle back to take a one point lead before Pinnacle would have the last shot. After a Dorian Pickens miss, junior Ben Wahlberg would come down with the offensive rebound and get fouled before the buzzer. That foul put Corona in the double bonus so that put Pinnacle’s 88% free throw shooter at the line for the win.
He would make one of two so we were headed to overtime.
Corona would lead by as many as four in the OT but like had been the case the entire game, Pinnacle wouldn’t go away. A Dorian Pickens three would get the Pioneers within one and then once again, Pinnacle would have the ball for the last shot in overtime. Pickens, who had 41 points and ten rebounds in the game, couldn’t get points 42 and 43 to fall and Corona would hold on to win, 71-70 for their third consecutive state championship.
“I didn’t think that this would every happen,” said Casey Benson, who had 24 points and nine assists, about their third consecutive title. “It’s the end of a great high school season, I love these guys and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
“Something that’s been out there all year. The repeat, the three-peat and they have taken everybody’s best shot since day one,” mentioned Coach Duane. “34 straight games of someone trying to dethrone them, that’s not an easy thing to do. But they responded well because they have high character and they believe.”