The 2017-2018 high school basketball season ended on Wednesday evening in fine fashion, as Pinnacle High School (24-7) would face off with a gritty Mountain Pointe team in front of a large crowd of fans at Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State University. Led by the superb play of 6-foot-3 star sophomore guard Nico Mannion, Pinnacle head coach Charlie Wilde would win his first ever 6A State Championship.
Pinnacle had gotten close to winning it all years earlier, but lost in the state final in consecutive seasons to Corona Del Sol, when the Aztecs were dominant in the state. This time around, led by the young star guard and a talented cast of prospects, Pinnacle would capture the elusive state championship for their head coach.
Mountain Pointe had blown out Pinnacle (81-45) earlier in the season, while Mannion and 6-foot-1 junior guard Trent Brown both sat the game out with injuries. This time around, with both guards healthy and on the floor for much of the contest, the Pioneers would cruise to a big 76-60 championship win.
After Mountain Pointe would get off to a quick start in the game, Pinnacle would take an 18-10 lead with 2:15 left to play in the first period, after a three-pointer from Mannion on a nice assist from Brown.
A three-pointer from two-sport star 6-foot-2 junior guard Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma commit-football), after an assist from Mannion, would push Pinnacle to a 24-14 lead in the second period. Another three-pointer from Mannion in transition would give Pinnacle a big 27-14 lead with 6:45 left to play in the first half.
Pinnacle would look very comfortable breaking Mountain Pointe's press in the first half, and would seem to run away with the game, until 5-foot-9 junior guard Khalid Price would knock down a three-pointer from the corner (Mountain Pointe's only 3-pointer of the game), and then convert a driving basket in the lane after falling down. Price's consecutive baskets would narrow the Pinnacle lead to 6 points, 27-21, with 5:45 left to play.
But just as Mountain Pointe would look to get back in it, Pinnacle would come right back, after a floater by Mannion on the baseline. A three-pointer from Trent Brown and then another three-pointer by Pinnacle and they would take a big 40-25 lead into halftime.
Mountain Pointe (26-4) has been tough all season under terrific head coach Duane Eason, and they would not lay down. The Pride would show just that, as they would narrow the lead to 10 points early in the second half, 40-30, after a three-pointer from 6-foot-3 senior guard Amarion Cash. But again, Pinnacle would come right back as Mannion would drive the baseline and throw down a nice two-handed dunk. A three-point play by Spencer Rattler after an assist from Mannion, would give Pinnacle a 49-36 lead with 2:49 remaining in the third period.
In the fourth and final period, Mountain Pointe would attempt a come-back but would turn the ball over (14 turnovers) and fail to get any stops on the defensive end. A mid-range jumper from Trent Brown, after making his defender fall, and then a 25-foot three-pointer from Mannion in transition, would give Pinnacle a 14-point lead, 62-48, with 4:20 left to play.
Pinnacle would then cruise to the championship win from there in front of more than 8,000 fans in the arena.
Mannion would finish with a game-high 21 points in the championship win, while Rattler would contribute 18 points and 6-foot-6 junior wing Jordan Mains would collect 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Khalid Price would lead Mountain Pointe with 18 points in the loss.
Congratulations to the Pinnacle program on their State Championship victory, and also head coach Charlie Wilde. This team will be very tough to beat again next high school season, as they will return many of their key cast members. This could begin another dynasty in the state, as long as they have Mannion. As long as Mannion stays in the fold, we could see two more consecutive state titles from this program.