Chaparral High School was the destination for a highly-anticipated matchup between the Pinnacle Pioneers (23-6) and the Mesa Jackrabbits (24-5). Both teams were showing off some great talent, with both teams being potential final-four candidates.
The game opened up fast paced. Back and forth they went, attacking the basket and running the break whenever possible. Mesa's 6-foot-2 senior guard DJ Henderson hit back-to-back threes for Mesa to force a Pinnacle timeout with three minutes left in the quarter, 18-10 Mesa.
Pinnacle was able to finish the quarter strong and was down 22-17 after one.
The second quarter started and Pinnacle 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward Drew Bender (Rice University signee) got his first bucket one minute in. Bender started being aggressive for Pinnacle to try to spark a run. The Pioneers were within striking distance the whole quarter.
Mesa's 6-foot-11 junior post Isaac Allen made an appearance when he swatted Pinnacle's 6-foot-4 junior Dorian Pickens on a drive to the basket. Allen did a nice job playing help-side defense all game long.
The quarter ended with a Drew Bender layup at the buzzer, giving Pinnacle a 38-37 halftime lead.
Bender and Pickens combined for 17 points in the first half, while Trey Ingram added six. Mesa was led by 6-foot-1 junior guard Christian Harris, who had 11. DJ Henderson added 10 points of his own.
The second half was similar to the first, with both teams running the floor well and being aggressive.
Isaac Allen was forced to sit after picking up his third foul just two minutes into the third quarter.
The teams went back and forth, with neither team giving up the big run. A key play in the quarter was when Dorian Pickens got a steal and dished it to Trey Ingram, who nailed a three-pointer to give Pinnacle a 60-56 lead. The fans exploded when Ingram hit it. Once again, Drew Bender ended the quarter with a layup at the buzzer to give Pinnacle a 62-56 lead going into the final eight minutes.
Mesa needed a big play to get them momentum, and they got it when Christian Harris hit a three, and then forced a five second call of Trey Ingram.
Mesa's 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Jalen Jenkins than came back with a layup to cut it to a 62-61 game.
With six minutes left and an opportunity for Mesa to take the lead, Isaac Allen was called for an offensive foul and was forced to sit, as that was his fourth foul.
Just one minute later, there was some physical play and both teams started talking - forcing an official timeout.
Mesa was within striking distance, when they missed three-straight free-throws - allowing Pinnacle to take a 72-66 lead with two minutes left.
DJ Henderson hit a three-pointer on the following possession to cut the lead to three. Mesa forced a bad shot and Henderson was fouled after collecting the rebound. He hit both free throws to make it a one-point game. Mesa then fouled Pinnacle's Trey Ingram, who hit both free throws.
Mesa called a timeout with :32 seconds left in the game and down three. On the following possession for Mesa, DJ Henderson was blocked by Pickens on a drive to the basket and Pinnacle rebounded it to seal the win.
The final score was 76-73. Pinnacle was led by Drew Bender’s 17 and Trey Ingram’s 16. Dorian Pickens was a beast, as he had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
For Mesa, DJ Henderson led all scorers with 21 points, while Christian Harris added 19. Isaac Allen scored 11 for the Jackrabbits in the loss.