So the rebuilding begins. Or is it reloading?
Pinnacle’s boys basketball never has been in a place where it had to start over, competing for respect and tournament spots.
It’s been a fixture at state since Charlie Wilde has had a whistle around his neck.
But Pinnacle now has to learn how to win without Dorian Pickens, the state’s Player of the Year by azcentral sports last season, who led Pinnacle to the Division I final each of the past two seasons.
With Pickens off to Stanford to begin his college journey, Pinnacle puts back on the training wheels.
But they should be off by the end of June, and Pinnacle should be back and running and respectable with a bunch of young players ready to take on larger roles.
“It’s all about developing,” Wilde said after a 49-36 loss to Pinnacle’s biggest nemesis the past two years, three-time defending state champion Tempe Corona del Sol, in a Grand Canyon University team camp game. “I may have a couple sitting at home waiting to take someone’s place.”
Arizona’s top high school boys basketball teams: 2013-14
Wilde isn’t too concerned about winning June basketball games.
He wants to see players improve by July.
And when practice begins in late October, he hopes to put out another contending team.
With Pickens and point guard Trey Ingram both graduated, Pinnacle will have to fill 38 points a game. The duo averaged more than half of their team’s points per game last season when they won 23 games but fell a basket short in overtime in the state final to Corona del Sol.
But at the end of that game, Pinnacle had three juniors on the court – forward Ben Wahlberg and guards Jeff Kenney and Trevor Baker.
All three played instrumental roles down the stretch and will be the backbone to next season’s team as seniors. Junior forward A.J. Elliot also likely will see his minutes pick up.
Wahlberg and Kenney averaged four points and Baker six points. Baker had 22 points against Mesa Dobson late in the season. He made 44 of 108 3-pointers.
Wahlberg had the clutch offensive rebound as he was fouled at the end of regulation and his team down by 1 in the state final. After a lengthy discussion among officials, Wahlberg went to the line to shoot a 1-and-1. He made the first to tie, and missed the second, and the game went into overtime.
Wilde liked to talk about how Wahlberg sent the championship game into overtime. Wahlberg can’t get over that second missed free throw.
“All the time,” Wahlberg said when asked if he thinks about the miss.
But the page has been turned, and Pinnacle has hit reboot, ready to find a new, winning identity. That main ingredient that keeps Pinnacle in contention year after year will be there.
“It’s always been a team,” Wahlberg said. “We’ll keep playing the way we do. We’ll keep rebounding hard, playing hard, taking care of the ball, like we’ve always done.”
Arizona high school basketball awards: 2013-14