Mountain Pointe Escapes Gilbert In OT

by Justin Vargas | Posted on Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Wednesday night would mark one of the more anticipated match-ups of this years McClintock Holiday Shoot-Out hosted at McClintock High School.  The red-hot Mountain Pointe Pride (12-1) coached by Duane Eason, who was coming off of a hard-earned win against Mesquite High the night before, would take on a tough team in Coach Jay Caserio’s Gilbert Tigers (8-5).

The two teams playing having contrasting styles of play, with Mountain Pointe pressing the entire game; usually with their run-and-gun system against a very half-court based Gilbert offense, that is very patient and methodical and chooses their shots carefully.  It had the makings of a good mid-season match-up.

Mountain Pointe’s full-court pressure seemed to wreak a little bit of havoc on Gilbert early, but the Pride allowed Gilbert to hang with them by committing careless turnovers in transition after creating turnovers on the defensive end.  Both teams would go back-and-forth in the opening quarter with neither willing to give an inch to allow either team to go on any kind of run.  A baseline fall-away jumper by Mountain Pointe’s 6-foot-4 senior guard Amarion Cash before the buzzer would break a 15-all tie to give his team the lead out of the first quarter.

Both teams would continue their stingy ways early In the 2nd quarter as neither team could create more than a one possession lead.  Gilbert’s 5-foot-10 senior guard Doc Self would hit a 3-pointer to give his team their biggest lead of the game, 25-19, with 4 minutes to go in the 1st half.  Their 6-foot senior guard Trajon Hawkins would hit his second 3-ball of the quarter to give them a 28-21 lead with less than 3 minutes left.  Gilbert would take a 31-27 lead into the half.

Gilbert would come out of the locker rooms attempting to take the air out of the ball to slow down the fast-paced Mountain Pointe attack.  The Pride just could not get any type of flow going early in the 3rd quarter, looking out of sorts with the ball.  Gilbert’s feistiness on defense giving the Pride more problems than they could handle.  A sweet feed from Gilbert’s 6-foot sophomore guard Paul Maldonado to teammate, 6-foot-1 sophomore wing Brycen Long, under the rim would give the Tigers their first double-digit lead with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd.  But showing they were just down and not out, Mountain Pointe would get back-to-back 3-balls from their sharpshooting 6-foot-5 senior forward Ryan Pate and 5-foot-9 junior guard Khalid Price to bring them back to within 4 with 15 ticks left in the 3rd period.  However, Brycen Long would strike again as he would answer with a 3-pointer of his own at the buzzer to send the Tigers into the final quarter up 49-42.

The two teams would get back to their ways of trading buckets early in the 4th quarter, with Mountain Pointe really struggling to convert from the free-throw line.  The Gilbert defense would give the Mountain Pointe shooters more open looks from 3 than mall Santa’s giving out candy canes, however the Pride failed to cash in on the opportunities.  Nevertheless, with 1 minute left in the game, Price would can 2 free-throws to tie the game at 53.  Hawkins would give the Tigers back the lead with 2 free-throws of his own.  A possession later, he would do it again, canning another set of clutch free-throws to give his team a 4-point advantage.  However, Price would score a lay-up in less than 5 seconds to get Mountain Pointe back to within 2 with 9.4 seconds to go.  Out of a Gilbert time-out, Mountain Pointe would force a jump-ball on the in-bound pass with 6.8 seconds left and the arrow in their favor.  Price would find 6-foot-7 sophomore forward DeAndre Henry under the hoop on a beautifully drawn up inbound play by Coach Eason to force overtime.

On their first offensive possession Price would hit a running floater to give the Pride their first lead since early in the 2nd quarter.  With the game tied, Brycen Long would hit another trey with a minute and 30 seconds left. But not to be outdone, Price would come up big again with a 3-ball of his own to tie it back up.  With Mountain Pointe clinging to a one-point lead and 10 seconds left, Long would try another shot from deep but would miss as the Pride escapes with a  66-64 victory.

Price would lead all scores with 24 as Gilbert’s Trajon Hawkins left it all on the floor with 21 points of his own in the losing effort. Hawkins is as tough as they come in this state. The kid has no fear and is not afraid of getting inside and banging with the big boys in the paint for rebounds or hitting the deck for the loose ball with the guards.  The Tigers go as he goes.  Though they came up short, he made all 6 of his late-game clutch free-throws and he might not have hit the rim on 4 or 5 of them.  He defines the way the Tigers like to play.  Mountain Pointe’s 6-foot-9 junior big man Jalen Graham would not partake in the festivities for the 2nd night in a row as his absence changes the identity noticeably for the Pride.  We will see if he gets back on the court for them as they take on the host team, McClintock HS, at 7pm.  Gilbert will square off against Desert Mountain at 5:30pm.

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