A career milestone wasn’t the first thing on the mind of Mountain Pointe guard Khalid Price on Tuesday night in Ahwatukee. He was more concerned with his team redeeming themselves against rival Desert Vista.
But as each 3-pointer from Price continued to fall, it wasn’t long before the public-address announcer acknowledged what he had accomplished. Price had surpassed 1,000career points.
And to add to the excitement, it came during Mountain Pointe’s 84-62 rout of Desert Vista.
“It feels great,” Price said. “Scoring 1,000 points, not everyone gets to say they’ve done that. I couldn’t have done it without my team. I can’t thank anybody but them.”
Mountain Pointe was left with a bitter taste in its mouth after a blowout loss in the first meeting with Desert Vista this season. Price admits they came out expecting to win the first contest, and couldn’t recover when Desert Vista took an early lead.
This time, however, it was Mountain Pointe that came out firing on all cylinders.
Desert Vista was unable to penetrate Mountain Pointe’s zone defense as they had in the first meeting, which often led to contested shots. The Thunder managed to hang around the Pride in the first quarter, however, largely in part to freshman guard Andrew King’s success from 3-point range.
But Mountain Pointe quickly built to a 10-point lead at the half thanks to impressive play from both Price and fellow guard J’Saan Strover – who led all scorers with 11 points heading into the locker room.
“J’Saan just hits big shot after big shot,” Mountain Pointe coach Kirk Fauske said. “We have faced a lot of adversity the last couple of weeks. We just came out and executed the game plan this week.”
Mountain Pointe’s 33-23 lead continued to build as Strover and Price continued to find success on the offensive end of the floor. On defense, it was a group effort to limit Desert Vista’s offensive production. Pride forwards Jonah LaBlanche and DeAndre Henry combined for 13 rebounds in the absence of center Jalen Graham – who missed his sixth straight game for an undisclosed reason.
With the Pride leading by 20 midway through the fourth quarter, most of the starters were replaced with reserves.
Strover finished 7-of-9 from the field for 18 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Price, meanwhile, was 8-of-13 for 25 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
“They punched us in the mouth the last time we played them,” Price said. “Our main focus since then has been to play our game. We knew we had to lock in and play as a team.”
With the win, Mountain Pointe (19-6, 7-1) controls its own destiny to win its first region title since 2005. The Pride take on Desert Ridge (8-16, 2-7) on Friday.
Meanwhile, Desert Vista (14-9, 6-2) will look to bounce back Friday as they travel to take on Corona del Sol (14-9, 5-2).
“This gives us a really good boost,” Price said. “We have to make sure we come in and stay focused to finish out these next two games.”