State basketball: Mountain Pointe finds right combination to advance - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

State basketball: Mountain Pointe finds right combination to advance

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Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 10:07 pm | Updated: 10:33 pm, Tue Jul 26, 2011.

Stevie Knox was smooth, Izzy Marshall was tenacious, Tylor Wimbish had the touch and Jerome Garrison wasn't at his best.

That happened to be the combination to Mountain Pointe's 66-62 win over Chandler Hamilton on Wednesday in the first round of the Class 5A Division I state tournament.

But here's the thing, and the reason the team is 22-5 - anyone of those roles could have changed and chances are the seventh-seeded Pride would have beat No. 10 Hamilton.

"We all step up in place of the other when we are struggling," Garrison said. "I feel like I had an off night, but Tylor made every bucket we needed and Stevie stepped up at the line down the stretch. We are all capable of stepping up and being the right man for the job."

This combination of roles - with a little Jalen Brown mixed in - was just enough against the Huskies (15-11).

The Pride led 51-50 when Hamilton's 6-foot-10 center Eric Jacobsen blocked Brown on what appeared to be a free and easy layup. The Husky bench went wild and was called for technical foul for leaving the bench (out of excitement).

Garrison (10 points) stepped to the line and made both free throws to push the lead to 53-50, but couldn't convert on a 3-pointer the ensuing possession to allow the Huskies to tie it at 53 on a basket and free throw from Jacobsen (9 points, 8 rebounds).

After that it was Knox making 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch, while Brown made an important baseline jumper with 2:30 left and the final two free throws of the game.

"It was great to contribute to the win at the end," said Knox, who finished with 10 points, four assists and three steals. "I felt confident on the first two and knocked them down. We needed them so it turned out to be pretty important."

The Pride advances to Saturday's 7 p.m. quarterfinals at No. 2 Mesa. Former teammate Jahii Carson, who became a Jackrabbit after playing his two years at Mountain Pointe, is Mesa's top player.

"This just feels right," Garrison said. "We are supposed to play Mesa. It's what we have been wanting all year."

Mountain Pointe is going to that chance in part because of Marshall's defense and Wimbish's offensive outburst.

Marshall, giving away at least six inches to Jacobsen, put a physical presence on Jacobsen, keeping him out of the paint or at least letting him know not one single shot was going to come easy.

"Izzy played a terrific game defensively," Mountain Pointe coach Brian Fleming said. "He let that big kid know it wasn't going to be an easy night."

Wimbish was a force early, keeping pace with Hamilton's Jack Cone, who finished with 30 points, but only five in the fourth quarter after Brown started guarding him more with Khari Holloway in foul trouble.

Wimbish was just as unstoppable as he had 10 first-quarter points and finished with a team-high 26 points.

"It was just the way the game was flowing," Wimbish said. "They weren't looking for me. I just got some to fall early, but anyone one of us could have been the one."

Cone, who had a 14-point third quarter, said the atmosphere was one to remember despite the loss.

"This was a great game and both teams played hard," Cone said. "We had our chances, both crowds were into it and they made their shots down the stretch. We missed some that might have made a difference, but it didn't happen."

Fleming, whose team trailed 21-15 after the first quarter, continues to be impressed by his senior class.

"Everyone picked us to lose this game," Fleming said. "It didn't matter to them. They stepped up and played with everything they had. They weren't going to lose their last game at home."

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Jason P. Skoda
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