It was one of the best match-ups of the 2017-2018 high school basketball season, in what would become one of the best games of the season. Well, there hasn't been a better game this season, so maybe it was the best. Filled with serious excitement, rim-rattling dunks, and a final buzzer beater to end the game, the second contest between Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe totally lived up to the billing on Tuesday evening.
It was similar to the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight, as the game had amazing interest by the Arizona basketball community, but unlike that fight, this game lived up to the hype - going 12 full rounds and ending with a knockout as the final bell sounded. It was a beauty to watch as two of the state's elite teams in the 6A Division rematched, after an earlier season contest that Mountain Pointe (20-2) would win, 87-85 in overtime.
Desert Vista (20-4) would take an early 8-3 lead in the contest after consecutive floaters in the lane by rising star 6-foot-2 junior guard Tyrek Chambers, but consecutive three-pointers from Mountain Pointe's 6-foot-4 senior guard Amarion Cash would tie the game at 8 all with 3:26 left to play in the opening quarter.
Desert Vista's 6-foot-6 senior forward Wesley Harris would give Desert Vista a narrow lead at the end of the first period, after he would collect a loose ball on the defensive end, and travel the length of the floor, dribble around a defender and finish the play with a monster one-handed dunk on the break - giving Desert Vista a 15-14 lead after one quarter.
In the second period, Desert Vista would jump out to a 6-point lead, 22-16, after a nice break-away dunk by 6-foot-2 junior guard Isaiah Wilson. But Mountain Pointe would come back, as they would the entire contest. A three-pointer from the corner by sharp-shooting 6-foot-5 senior forward Ryan Pate with 3:45 left in the half, would give Mountain Pointe a 24-22 lead.
Desert Vista would come back and take a 33-29 lead into the half.
The third period would belong to Mountain Pointe's Ryan Pate, as the shooting sniper would knock down (3) consecutive huge three-pointers for the Pride to give them their biggest lead of the game - an 8-point advantage, 48-40.
6-foot-8 senior post Christian Anigwe would have one of his better performances of the season on the night. Anigwe would keep Desert Vista in the hunt in the third period, as the athletic post player would convert numerous times in the third period. Anigwe's defensive effort and ability to collect rebounds on the offensive end, would keep the Thunder close, as Mountain Pointe would hold on to a narrow 48-45 lead after three quarters.
The three exciting quarters would set up an excellent fourth and final period for both teams. The period would almost begin with an amazing alley-oop dunk and a foul by Wesley Harris over Mountain Pointe's Amarion Cash on the break. The three-point play would give Desert Vista a 50-48 lead with 7:17 left to play.
The match-up of Christian Anigwe and Mountain Pointe's 6-foot-9 junior post Jalen Graham was one to watch on the night, as the two top-rated post talents went at it in fine fashion for the entire game. With 7 minutes to go in the game, Anigwe went to the bench to get a quick rest. With Anigwe on the bench, Graham would go to work inside. After a basket inside by Graham, teammate Ryan Pate would knock down yet another three-pointer to push the Pride ahead 54-52.
But, again, Desert Vista would come right back after a long three-pointer from 5-foot-9 junior guard E.J. Jackson. After an assist by Jackson to Tyrek Chambers on the break for a layup, Desert Vista would take a 57-54 lead with 4:45 left to play.
Mountain Pointe's Graham would score (3) consecutive baskets to keep Mountain Pointe close, but after a three-pointer by Chambers, Desert Vista would hold on to a 62-60 lead with 2:56 left to play in the contest.
After a basket in transition by Mountain Pointe's 5-foot-9 junior guard Khalid Price, narrowing DV's lead to a 3-point margin, 65-62, Desert Vista would almost turn the basketball over in transition, before Desert Vista head coach Gino Crump would call a timeout just as the turnover began to happen with the basketball in the air, traveling down the floor.
After the timeout, Desert Vista would lose the basketball only to have Mountain Pointe picked it up and travel down the floor, again looking for their marksman, Ryan Pate, for, yet another, long bomb in transition to tie the score at 65 all.
After another timeout by the Thunder, Crump would allow his star guard, Tyrek Chambers, to take the game into his hands with :18 seconds left to play. Chambers would dribble the basketball in fine fashion, running down the clock, and then breaking down his defender and firing a three-pointer at the buzzer. The ball would not even hit the rim, as it would swish through the net at the buzzer - giving Desert Vista the big 68-65 win over Mountain Pointe, and ending the Pride's 16-game winning streak in the process.
Christian Anigwe would finish with a game-high 17 points, while Chambers would finish with 15 for Desert Vista. Wesley Harris would also finish with 14 points in the win.
Ryan Pate would finish with a team-high 17 points in the loss, while Amarion Cash would contribute 14 points.
This was one of the most exciting games of the year, and we can only hope that we see another match-up between these two teams this high school season. It will be very interesting to see where both teams get seeded and on what sides of the playoff bracket. This could be a preview of the state championship game, but I am sure such teams as Brophy Prep and Pinnacle will have a lot to say about that as well. It is going to be a great end to the season, regardless of who makes it to the state final. If it is these two teams, all I can say is that I will have my popcorn ready.