Pinnacle accomplishes rare feat with boys, girls reaching finals

Pinnacle accomplishes rare feat with boys, girls reaching finals

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Pinnacle accomplishes rare feat with boys, girls reaching finals

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Phoenix Pinnacle Athletic Director Jay Thomas had a ski trip to Sunrise scheduled for this weekend.

He canceled it. He’ll be a little busy Saturday.

Pinnacle’s boys and girls basketball teams will be at Jobing.com Arena trying to win Division I state championships. The last school to pull off the daily double: Mesa Mountain View back in 1998.

“It’s pretty cool,” said junior Dorian Pickens, who had a monster game in Pinnacle’s 69-59 victory over Laveen Cesar Chavez on Thursday. “It’s our goal every season, to make it to the state-championship game.”

The girls, who beat Gilbert Highland 61-49 in their semifinal contest, had a more ambitious goal in mind. They’ve done the state championship appearance thing; incredibly, this will be their sixth trip to the title game in seven years.

What they want, more than anything, is to leave the final game of the season winners. Their finals record — 0-5 — is a wound that can’t be healed with another runner-up finish. Pinnacle lost to Glendale Cactus in 2007, Phoenix South Mountain in 2008 and Tolleson in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“It’s the worst feeling,” said star guard Sydney Wiese, who had 21 points and five assists against Highland. “I refuse to let it happen again. We all refuse to.”

As you might imagine, the parallel success of the two programs has created a special basketball synergy at Pinnacle. Nearly every morning, some of the girls players walk into the math classroom of boys coach Charlie Wilde to talk hoops. As the state tournament has progressed, there’s been less and less small talk; it’s all basketball.

On Thursday, as usual, Wiese stopped by.

“She said, ‘Hi, coach,’” Wilde said. “I said, ‘Hey, jump stop.’ It’s that time of year.”

The irony is that the boys, who are rookies at this state-title-game stuff, have a much better chance to add to the school’s trophy case. Pinnacle has won 16 consecutive games, and it matches up well with either Tempe Corona del Sol or Scottsdale Desert Mountain, which faced off in the late semifinal game Thursday.

The boys have three consistent offensive threats in Pickens, Drew Bender and point guard Trey Ingram, who combined for 56 points against Cesar Chavez. Bender still is bothered by a bum left ankle, so Wilde told Pickens before the game to “go for it.”

That’s just what Pickens did, going off for 32 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals. His ability to shoot the 3-pointer and get inside for layups or to crash the offensive boards — he had five on Thursday — make him a matchup nightmare.

The girls, on the other hand, have the unenviable — impossible? — task of trying to beat Phoenix St. Mary’s, which has won two consecutive titles and last lost to an Arizona team in January of 2011. The team that beat the Knights?

Pinnacle.

In their lone game this season, however, St. Mary’s crushed Pinnacle by 20. As good as the Pioneers are, beating the Knights would be the biggest upset in Arizona sports this season. And yes, that includes college and pro teams.

“Like I said two years ago when they were all distraught, ‘You know, how many teams get to get that far?’” recalled coach Troy Wiese, Sydney’s father. “One time it’s going to change. Maybe it’ll be Saturday.”

Whatever happens, it will be a day the school remembers forever.

Reach Bordow at scott.bordow@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow.

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