Pinnacle tops Gilbert Christian at VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge

Pinnacle tops Gilbert Christian at VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge

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Pinnacle tops Gilbert Christian at VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge

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Dorian Pickens’ defense on 6-foot-7 junior Sam Jones and an offense that started clicking in the second half pushed Phoenix Pinnacle past Gilbert Christian 83-61 Wednesday on the first day of the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge at Mesa Mountain View High.

Pickens, a 6-5 junior guard, led Pinnacle with 17 points, but it was his defense that made a difference.

After Jones went off for 16 points in the first half, coach Charlie Wilde put Pickens on Jones.

Jones didn’t attempt a shot in the second half until forcing a 3 that missed with 7:43 left. By then, Pinnacle had built a 65-47 lead.

“In the first half, he was real productive,” Pickens said. “I knew if I could take him out a little bit, we’d have a good chance.”

Pinnacle went 2-2 in the inaugural Jerry Tarkanian Classic last weekend in Las Vegas, where it played some of the top teams in the country. Pinnacle lost four-year starting guard Drew Bender to a sprained ankle with five minutes left in the first half of its first game in Las Vegas.

Bender missed the rest of the tournament, but played Wednesday. He didn’t have his same elevation but he still produced 14 points, making four of 10 3-pointers. He also had four assists.

Pickens had three steals, four assists and four rebounds, as Pinnacle moved the ball around quickly in the second half for open shots. It shot 58 percent for the game. Guard Trey Ingram had 15 points.

Jones finished with 20 points, but he had no field goals in the second half.

Dylan Bliss had 15 points, Keaton Ranger 12 and Roberto Reyes 10 for Gilbert Christian, the defending Division III champion which won its first 10 games before losing to Division I Pinnacle.

Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said that the Tarkanian tournament made his team better. It also got other players involved with Bender missing the final three games.

“We competed, and these kids came away saying, ‘Yeah, we can play,’ ” Wilde said.

In earlier VisitMesa.com Challenge games Wednesday:

Phoenix Desert Vista, which went 1-3 in the Tarkanian tournament, outscored Lexington (S.C.) 52-32 in the second half and won 75-66, as Greg Carter scored 30 points, including 18 of 21 from the free-throw line.

Deonte Harrington had 17 points, Avery Brunson 13 and Kyle Pitman 11 for Desert Vista.

Nygel Gates led Lexington with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

San Diego Hoover jumped out to an eight-point lead in the first half and held off Mesa Red Mountain 70-54, as Jordan Alexander scored 28 points and Miles Nolen-Webb added 20.

Senior swingman Travis Meeker led Red Mountain with 19 points. Derek Rojas added 15.

Eugene (Ore.) Churchill had four players score in double figures and beat Tucson Salpointe Catholic 83-43.

Salpointe shot only 34 percent. Churchill, which shot 53 percent, was led by Emmanuel Morgan’s 14 points and David Shedrick’s 13. Malik Morgan and Deshone Brooks each had 12 points.

Churchill outrebounded Salpointe 40-23 and forced 24 turnovers.

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