The Pinnacle Pioneers hosted the Desert Mountain Wolves in a matchup of a couple of potential final-four teams. Pinnacle was 19-6 coming into this game, while Desert Mountain sat at an impressive 21-3.
The environment was reminiscent of a tournament game, as fans filed in, filling up the seats to the top. The game started and both teams came out with energy.
The first real excitement came two minutes in when Desert Mountain’s Mark Andrews stole a pass and finished on the other end with a fast break dunk. However, Pinnacle answered well, as 6-foot-4 junior guard Dorian Pickens hit his second three-pointer of the opening quarter to force a Desert Mountain timeout, the Pioneers up 12-6.
Pinnacle rode their early lead as Will Donovan hit a jump shot at the buzzer to make it a 21-12 lead after one quarter.
Down nine, the Wolves needed a spark. They got one as the second quarter started, as Remy Smith hit back-to-back three-pointers in the first minute, and then one a minute later. Diego Magana teed up a three of his own to tie the game at 23 points apiece. Than after some good defense, Mark Andrews finished a layup to give Desert Mountain a 2-point lead - capping off a 13-2 run.
Pinnacle was able to answer, as 6-straight points by Trey Ingram forced Desert Mountain coach Todd Fazio to pull his star point guard Rolando Rhymes with two and a half minutes left in the half. Despite Rhymes being on the bench for that stretch, the Wolves played well, and found themselves up 34-33 at the half.
Desert Mountain’s halftime leaders were Mark Andrews and Rolando Rhymes - Andrews scoring 7 and Rhymes contributing 7 points of his own. Remy Smith also provided two 3-pointers off the bench.
For Pinnacle, Dorian Pickens had 10 points and senior guard/forward Drew Bender (Rice University signee) had 9 at the half.
The second half was set to be good, as everybody in the gym was ready for a great finish. The half started with a Pinnacle 6-0 run to force a Desert Mountain timeout three minutes in.
Desert Mountain answered the run and cut the Pinnacle lead to two, 41-39. However, Pinnacle than scored 8 unanswered and forced another timeout. The run got to 12-straight before Diego Magana hit a three. Magana’s shot proved pointless, as Pinnacle got the lead up to 13 before Drew Bender added on with an And-1 three.
Desert Mountain called another timeout, down 59-42. Pinnacle would close out the quarter well, with the score 64-46 after three. Drew Bender and Dorian Pickens put on a show in the quarter, and helped the Pioneers outscore the Wolves 31-12. From there, Pinnacle didn’t look back and finished the game with an impressive 85-60 win.
Desert Mountain had nothing going offensively, as their highest scorers were Mark Andrews and Will Goff who each had 10.
Rolando Rhymes struggled, finishing with 9 points and struggled with turnovers.
Pinnacle’s offense was led by their two-headed monster in Pickens and Bender. Drew Bender finished with a game-high 21 points, while Pickens was right behind him with 19. Trey Ingram was solid as well, as he added 15.
If Pinnacle is healthy, they have the potential to go a long way. Desert Mountain lives and dies by the three, and in this game it killed them.