It was a nice match-up on Tuesday evening between two of the state's most talented and athletic groups, as Mountain Ridge High School (19-6) ventured across the valley to face Desert Ridge in Mesa. Mountain Ridge is led by the play four different division-I prospects, and has as much or more individual talent than any other team in the state. Desert Ridge (15-11) is also loaded with talented prospects and is led by one of the state's elite young talents, 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Timmy Allen. It would make for an exciting match-up.
Many people from the basketball community made the trip for the game, including UCLA assistant coach and good friend David Grace to see some of the young talent on display in this one.
As a result of the task at hand while facing a talented Desert Ridge team, Mountain Ridge would came out very focused in this one - taking a nice halftime lead, 40-26, over host Desert Ridge. Desert Ridge would play uninspired basketball in the first half, but all that would change immensely in the second half.
Behind the strong play of Timmy Allen, Desert Ridge would begin to close the scoring gap in the third period. With 1:42 left to play in the third period, Mountain Ridge head coach Eli Lopez would call a timeout to regroup his team, after Desert Ridge would outscore their opponent 15 to 8 to start the third period.
Mountain Ridge would hold on to a 50-44 lead heading into the fourth period.
With 5:23 left to play in the game, Timmy Allen would prove why UCLA was in the gym, as he would travel the length of the floor for a two-handed dunk in transition and in traffic - narrowing Mountain Ridge's lead to just 5 points, 52-47. On the next play, Allen would turn in another superb highlight, as he would block a dunk attempt by Mountain Ridge 6-foot-5 senior guard Jay Green - igniting the crowd. At this point, Desert Ridge's level of intensity had increased significantly, and the referees were letting both teams play very physical - making for a very exciting fourth quarter.
Timmy Allen would continue his strong play, making a nice driving layup with 3:11 left in the game, and bringing Desert Ridge to within one-point of Mountain Ridge, 52-51. With 1:47 left to play, 6-foot-4 junior forward Jalen Harris would slice through the lane for a nice, left-handed layup in traffic to tie the score at 53.
With the score tied and the home crowd very much into the game, 6-foot-6 junior forward Saikou Gueye would collect an offensive rebound and get fouled on the offensive put-back. Gueye would miss both free-throw attempts. With 1:02 remainning and after a defensive stop, Jay Green would get fouled in transition and also go to the line with the score tied. Green would convert both free-throws - giving Mountain Ridge a 55-53 lead.
After a missed shot by Desert Ridge and a turnover by the Mountain Ridge team, Desert Ridge would get two opportunities to tie or win the game with seconds remainning on the clock, but would fail to convert either opportunity. Mountain Ridge would walk away with the narrow 56-53 victory.
Jay Green would finish with a team-high 17 points, and 6-foot-7 junior wing Jared Rodriguez would contribute 14 points for Mountain Ridge.
Timmy Allen would finish with a game-high 24 points in the loss for Desert Ridge.
Mountain Ridge will face Desert Mountain HS on Thursday (2/11) in their final regular season game of the year, while Desert Ridge will now look forward to their sectional playoffs next week.