Nico Mannion banked home a 3-pointer from the top of the key in the final seconds of Phoenix Pinnacle’s 82-80 home win over Phoenix Shadow Mountain.
The game-winning shot capped a back-and-forth battle between the defending 6A champion Pinnacle and the defending 4A champion Shadow Mountain. Mannion, an Arizona commit, and Shadow Mountain’s Jaelen House, an Arizona State commit, were at the center of the showdown.
“I’ve been playing against Jaelen since I was like 10 years old, so it’s a bit of a rivalry between us,” Mannion said. “Both of us are seniors, so our team really wanted to win this one.”
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Fans packed Pinnacle’s arena. Late arrivers couldn’t find seats. ASU coach Bobby Hurley and NBA champion Eddie House, Jaelen’s father, were among the attendees.
Pinnacle jumped out early, 6-0, but that was the biggest lead either team would have all night.
The Pioneers held House scoreless in the first half, but guard Jovan Blacksher led the Shadow Mountain offense on a 17-7 run to close out the first quarter by knifing through the lane with nimble feet and mid-air body control.
Mannion missed every jump shot he attempted in the first half, but he put up six points close to the basket. The score was tied at 35 at intermission.
Pinnacle’s long-armed redhead found his touch in the third quarter. Mannion hit his first five jump shots and scored 16 points in the quarter. However, Shadow Mountain forward Shemar Morrow dominated the offensive glass and helped his team weather Mannion’s storm. He had several key putbacks as part of his 18-point performance.
Pinnacle entered the final period with a 53-52 lead, but Mike Bibby’s Matadors continued to attack the hop and entered the bonus will seven minutes left in the game.
House used the free-throw line to find his groove, scoring seven fourth-quarter points.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Mannion went down with an apparent leg injury and had to check out of the game.
“I cramped up,” Mannion said. “The trainers gave me some fruit gummies and Gatorade, and that did the trick.”
Mannion returned to the game.
With 11 seconds left in the game and trailing by one point, House went to the line with a chance to give Shadow Mountain the lead. He delivered with two clutch free throws.
Pinnacle quickly inbounded the ball to Mannion. As he dribbled up the court, House dove for the ball and knocked it free. Mannion was able to recover the ball. He navigated his way to the 3-point line and fired a contested shot.
“We just wanted to get the ball into his hands,” Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said. “There’s no special play that we ran. We just put the ball in his hands and then hoped something special would happen.”
The ball went in with just one second left on the clock. The buzzer soon sounded. The game was over. The last three points of Mannion’s 27 were enough to give Pinnacle a two-point win.
“We’ve been going hard against (Shadow Mountain) since about 2004. We’re both really good teams,” Wilde said. “This game has got to be up there in the top one or two.”