Top-rated Desert Mountain High School (12-4) faced off with Casteel High School (14-3) on Tuesday evening at home in an exciting match-up, as Casteel came into the contest as winners of their last (6) games on the season, and also recently won the McClintock Holiday Shootout over the winter break. Desert Mountain had lost two games in a row to out-of-state competition at the recent Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge, and were without three starters in Tuesday evening's match-up - sophomore guard Kalek House, freshman guard Jabron Bardwell and junior post Jaylen Johnson. Amazingly enough, it would not make a difference for Desert Mountain as stud guards, 6-foot-3 sophomore Kaden House and 6-foot-4 freshman Javon Bardwell would come together to combine for (43) points, and lead Desert Mountain to an impressive 67-55 home win over Casteel.
Casteel is a very talented team this season and has an very experienced coaching staff, which includes Head Coach Aaron Windler and former longtime Head Coach Commander King as an assistant. Quickly in the contest, it seemed that Desert Mountain would completely have their hands full in this game, as they would need an inspired effort from their limited roster, to hold off Casteel. Casteel would go up 19-8 late in the first quarter, and grasped the game's momentum quickly. Kaden House would knock down a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter.
In the second period, Casteel would look to increase their margin, after taking a 21-11 lead on a post move inside by 6-foot-2 senior Aidan Schmidt. But just when Casteel was looking to blow things wide open, the intensity level for the Desert Mountain team went to another level. Kaden House would knock down a three-pointer, and then Javon Bardwell would get it going - knocking down a contested three-pointer, and then collect a steal and score another basket in transition. After a Casteel timeout, Bardwell would knock down another three-pointer - giving Desert Mountain it's first lead of the game, 29-27, with 1:30 remaining in the first half. Desert Mountain would take a 31-28 lead into the half.
In the third period, freshman guard Mekhi Walcott would get it going and make his impact felt on the game. Walcott would connect on a three-pointer, then knock down another jump shot, before another transition basket by Kaden House, another basket by Walcott and then an assist from Walcott to 5-foot-11 junior guard Reid Neuhausen for a three-pointer. After two more consecutive baskets by Bardwell, Desert Mountain would jump out to a 47-37 lead, with 1:35 left to play in the third period.
Desert Mountain would go into the final fourth period with a 50-40 lead. In the game's final period, Kaden House would catch fire again, and thwart any hopes by Castell for a comeback, Desert Mountain would walk away with the 67-55 come-from-behind home win. Kaden House would finish with a team-high 23 points in the victory, while Bardwell would also pour in 20 points. Walcott would also finish with 20 points in the win. Casteel's Aidan Schmidt would lead all scorers - finishing with a game-high 24 points in the loss.
Desert Mountain will now have a favorable schedule going forward, until an exciting match-up with top-rated Millennium High School on February 8th.