Mesa keeps playoff hopes alive
February 3, 2020 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365
It's that time of year. Precious few games remain and teams on one bubble
or another trying to improve playoff position or just plain qualify.
That description fit Pinnacle and Mesa High on Monday night - programs
that have combined for three of the last four big-school boys hoops titles
and perennial playoff qualifiers. The more desperate of the two won out.
No. 28 Mesa managed to maintain a lead it owned for all but a three-minute
stretch in the second period, edging No. 16 Pinnacle, 69-62, at Jackrabbit
Gym. The top 24 teams qualify for postseason. The top eight notch
first-round byes and the next 16 must must compete in a play-in game to
make the state tournament. Updated power-rankings will be posted Tuesday
at noon as the final two or three games are to be played between Feb. 4
and Feb. 11.
Pinnacle (9-14, 7-8 power-ranking games), the two-time defending 6A champs
continued to bring an injury-ravaged squad to Mesa (10-14, 5-11). Despite
having several players miss large chunks of games and even one shut down
for the season, the Pioneers have a resolve to finish the regular season
strong and perhaps earn play-in home game come Valentine's Day.
Mesa didn't help Pinnacle's cause using a couple clutch free-throws with
19.6 seconds left from Tyton Cummard for a two-possession lead at 66-62.
Pinnacle missed a three and two more shots as time wound down. A free
throw and basket by Mesa game-high scorer Steven Ceravantes kept the
Jackrabbits with a heartbeat for at least another game.
"We're playing every game with a playoff mentality," Mesa coach Scott
Stansberry said. "We're pretty much in win-or-go-home mode. It's a
signature win. We needed it after the tough loss to Basha the other
night." Mesa has won two games in a row after ending a three-game losing
streak put the Jackrabbits on life support as January ended.
Mesa's top scoring threats were at it again in this one. Junior guards
Cervantes and Dallin Cook were more prolific than usual. The duo
collectively average 28 points game. They tallied 43 - 22 for Cervantes
and 21 for Cook. They scored 13 of Mesa's 16 points in the final quarter.
Pinnacle, which trailed 15-10 after the opening period went on an 11-0 run
in a 2 1/2-minutes span to begin the second quarter. Cook and Dylan Moore
helped Mesa turn the game back Mesa's way (35-29) by intermission. Cook
They teamed up for 13 of Mesa's 20 points in the period.
The Pioneers were again without 6-8 post Tosh Baker, who hasn't played in
the 2020 portion of the 2019-20 season and played in just 11 games.
Pioneers coach Charlie Wilde said Baker may be able to play later in the
week and hopefully at least by play-in game time. Another starter - Luke
Grawer - played several games with a shoulder injury, but was shut down
for the season after last week. Grawer played in only 13 games, some not a
Mesa closes the season with East Valley Region games against Dobson,
Mountain View and Red Mountain. The latter two are vying for play-in game
spots as well. Pinnacle has Desert Valley Region games left with Liberty,
Chaparral and Boulder Creek.
Mesa-Desert Mountain - Fear the Hop
Mesa's Drew Shumway took it upon himself to rally Mesa as the final period
began with the Jackrabbits down, 39-34, to Desert Mountain. Shumway, a 6-1
junior, scored Mesa's first eight points of the quarter and keyed a 18-7
run, putting Mesa in front to stay. Shumway scored 16 points in the quarter
and finished with a game-high 22.
Senior Tyton Cummard, who sank a three in the early
fourth-quarter run, finished with 14 points. Junior guard Steven
Cervantes, who led Mesa in scoring the opening half with 10, ended up with
14. Mesa played without two injured players who saw time last year - this
year's co-captains Julian Jackson (broken arm) and Dylan Moore.
Desert Mountain junior guard Carson Biggs led the
Wolves with 19 points. Tony Elliott added eight points and Justice Rogers
and Swade Wing chipped in seven points apiece.