On Thursday, December 13th I went to see the Pinnacle Pioneers versus the Chaparral Firebirds at the beautiful stadium of Chaparral HS. I was expecting fireworks from these two very good teams with as many as 5 players that may play Division-I basketball in the future.
The game started off fast from the tip and Chaparral would pound it down low with 6-foot-8 senior post Joe Boyd (Drake University signee) catching a beautiful pass from 5-foot-10 sophomore PG Brandon Hoffer. A few plays later, a huge fast break dunk by 6-foot-7 senior power forward Erik Conklin to tie the game at 7-7.
The match-ups in this game were fun to watch as 6-foot-5 senior small forward Drew Bender (Rice University signee) was defending 6-foot-3 sophomore shooting guard Kenzo Nudo, and Joe Boyd found himself guarding talented 6-foot-5 junior guard Dorian Pickens.
Near the end of the 1st quarter, two consecutive 3-pointers by Kenzo Nudo would give Chaparral a 13-10 lead. Nudo would hit another mid-range jumper off of Bender’s 2 turnovers in a row. On the next play, 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Ryan Bayster would hit a 15-foot jump shot at the end of the quarter - giving the Firebirds a 19 to 14 lead. Kenzo Nudo would finish with 8 points at the end of one quarter.
The second period would start with more hot shooting from the bench players of Chaparral, as 6-foot-1 junior guard Shane Cooper and 5-foot-9 senior PG Hayden Bishop would hit 3 shots total for a 27 to 18 lead for Chaparral.
Drew Bender would finally start to get into a groove - collecting many rebounds, assists and points in a 3-minute stretch to cut the Chap lead to only 6, for 35 to 29 game. Bender is an extremely versatile player that can play 4 positions for his team. Pickens would benefit from Bender's play, as would get to the free-throw line consistently off of his passes. Pickens would generate 8 points and many very tough rebounds versus Joe Boyd and Erik Conklin.
At the end of the first half, a lucky deflection would go Chaparral’s way as the ball would end up in Conklin’s hand for a lay-up for a 37 to 29 Chaparral lead.
Chaparral was led by Kenzo Nudo’s 10 first half points, while Pinnacle would get 8 points by Dorian Pickens.
The third would start with scoring coming fast and furious as Bender would go to work immediately and get an “and-1” for himself.
But a Troy Conley 3-ball on the next possession would put Chaparral back up to an 8-point lead. Then Joe Boyd would get a huge block on Drew Bender, and Troy Conley would hit another 3-point bomb on the other end. Four more free-throws made by Chaparral would give them their biggest lead of the night as they would go up by 15 points - 47 to 32. Then another 3-pointer by Troy Conley and he would be officially on fire.
After Pickens would go all the way to the hoop for an easy lay-up, two more free-throws by Conklin would give Chaparral a big 54 to 37 advantage. Troy Conley would hit his fifth 3-pointer of the night, and then Hayden Cooper would make a steal and dish out an assist to Shane Cooper for a lay-up for a 59 to 37 lead.
The rest of the quarter was more of the same, as Chaparral would hold on to a 66 to 43 lead. The stars of Pinnacle would almost look disinterested during the remainder of the quarter.
The final period would start with Pickens and Bender having some fire left, and scoring 10-straight amongst them, but another 3-pointer by Kenzo Nudo and Shane Cooper would put the Chaparral lead back to a huge 79 to 53 margin.
After that play the bench would be cleared for both teams, and Chaparral would eventually run away with an impressive 91 to 64 victory.
Pinnacle was led in the game by Pickens, who finished with 18 points, while Drew Bender had 15 points and 5 assists. No one else on the team had more then 6 points to help out one of the top duos in the state.
Chaparral was extremely balanced as their top 8 players all played extremely well. Boyd had 8 points and 8 rebounds, Conklin had 14 points, Nudo had 13 points, Brandon Hoffer had 6 assists and Troy Conley lead the starters with a team-high 17 points (five 3-pointers). The three reserves of Ryan Bayster, Shane Cooper and Hayden Bishop were very great compliments for the Chaparral starters. Cooper had 14 points and Bayster had 6 points and many tough rebounds, while Bishop was a steady PG with no turnovers and 2 assists.
Chaparral moves to 6-3, but has now beaten Desert Mountain HS and Pinnacle - two great wins on their resume for the playoffs.
Quick Hitters: After watching the freshman and JV games, I noticed some prospects that will be on the radar very soon. 5-foot-8 freshman PG Joey Faudskar, and 6-foot-3 freshman Nick Mains for Pinnacle HS.