Desert Mountain survives No. 1 Mesa

Desert Mountain survives No. 1 Mesa

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Desert Mountain survives No. 1 Mesa

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Junior point guard Rolando Rhymes took over the third quarter, and junior forward Mark Andrews made the big defensive stop at the end, helping fourth-ranked Scottsdale Desert Mountain survive No.1 and host Mesa 49-47 Tuesday night in a Division I boys basketball game.

Rhymes, who had to sit out all of last season after transferring from Phoenix St. Mary’s, hit two 3-pointers to start the second quarter, giving Desert Mountain a 17-10 lead.

With 6-foot-10 junior center Isaac Allen making it difficult to score on inside, Desert Mountain (13-2) scored just one more point in the final 6:25 of the half.

But, in the third quarter, Rhymes dribbled past Allen and others in transition, triggering a 16-6 run and giving Desert Mountain a 34-28 lead with a less than three minutes left. Rhymes, who scored 23 points, also had two assists in the pivotal period.

“When he gets in the open floor, that is when he is at his best,” Desert Mountain coach Todd Fazio said. “They were taking away our shooters. They were face-guarding the corners. They really didn’t have any help on the dribble, and he’s really good at penetrating. He didn’t have anyone to kick it to like he normally does. He had to make shots.”

Desert Mouintain’s best shooter, Diego Magana, was held scoreless. But Desert Mountain found others to help out.

Andrews, Desert Mountain’s biggest player at 6-6, was a beast in the block during critical times early and late in the game.

He made it tough for Allen to get off a good shot at the end, blocking him out and grabbing the rebound as time ran out.

A few times in the third quarter, Rhymes dribbled past Allen for layups. Allen, who has made major improvements since his freshman year, had 15 points for Mesa (14-3). He had three straight dunks to end the first quarter and early in the second quarter.

Allen once was called for goal-tending on Will Goff’s shot in the final quarter.

“Their transition defense, we noticed in the first half, was a little weak,” Rhymes said. “They like to crash boards. But if we get out on the break, we are able to get a lot of easy shots.”

Mesa had a chance at the end after Andrews missed the front end of a one-and-one with 20 seconds left and Desert Mountain leading by two points. Desert Mountain had a foul to give before Mesa would go to the line. It took one with 12 seconds left.

Desert Mountain, especially Andrews, was waiting for Allen to try to make a shot close to the basket at the end.

“I thought Isaac was good offensively, but we didn’t stop Rhymes,” Mesa coach Shane Burcar said. “We didn’t pass the ball. We scored 47 points. That’s not getting it done. We have to pass the ball better and make plays.”

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