Aaron Windler had trouble sleeping Saturday night.

A difficult loss (and some easy wins) always eats at a coach and it can make for a long night.

The Mountain Pointe boys basketball team lost a very tough 66-65 double overtime thriller in the second round of the Division I state tournament to top-seeded Corona del Sol in what some are calling one of the greatest Arizona high school games ever played.

“It wasn’t meant to be and we may not know why until years down the line,” Windler said. “We had some chances to make it a four-point or five-point game with free throws and we didn’t. I thought Khari (Holloway)’s final shot was in, but it didn’t happen.”

But should the game have happened that early in the tournament?

Let’s give the back story.

After losing to Desert Vista on Jan. 31 the Pride came back and beat Gilbert on Feb. 1 to end the regular season. The win moved the Pride into the sectional tournament as the No. 8 seed and bumped Marcos de Niza out.

So clearly the Pride was ranked higher than Marcos in the final regular season rankings.

Mountain Pointe loses to Mesa in the first round of sectionals while Marcos sat and practiced while not being deemed good enough to make the sectional tournament.

A week later when the state tournament bracket is filled out Marcos received the 15th overall seed and Mountain Pointe was 16th.

In order words, Mountain Pointe was punished for making the sectional tournament and Marcos improved its slot - from 17 to 15 - in the state tournament because it didn’t make the sectional. The Padres strength of schedule got better as teams they faced during the regular season moved deep into the sectional tournaments.

What sense does that make?

It is clear there is a flaw in counting the sectional games in the overall state rankings.

The Pride played their way into a sectional tournament while facing DI's second toughest schedule. It is rewarded by having a team like Marcos, which lost its final two regular season games, jump it in the final rankings.

That's not exactly a great message to send. Play hard, earn the distinction of being a sectional participant and then lose ground to a team that wasn't good enough, according to the formula, to be among the eight best DI, Section III teams.

Mountain Pointe's sectional appearance and quick exit pushed it into the same bracket as Corona del Sol whereas Marcos, which did beat the Pride twice, was matched up with No. 2 Cesar Chavez.

Would it have made a difference? Windler believes so as his team came together late in the season.

“Clearly, there is something wrong with the AIA’s rankings,” Windler said. “If we had Ironwood and Chavez (Marcos’ two opponents) we’d still be playing.”

As it is the Pride made some strides toward the end of the year.

“In the grand scheme of things we got to be where we wanted to be (as far as level of play),” Windler said. “I’d much rather be good in February than in November or December and we were good in February. I think a lot of players discovered they had a fifth gear and what it takes to get there. I hope they use it the rest of their lives and go to it often.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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