There is less than a month of regular season basketball left before the new sectional tournament action starts.
And Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe have yet to play.
It should make for some interesting games down the stretch, the first of which is Friday as Mountain Pointe hosts Desert Vista in the boys side of things.
Then the two rivals meet again near the end of the regular season on Feb. 2 at Desert Vista.
"Mountain Pointe is going to be tough," Desert Vista coach Dave Williams said. "They'll be looking to knock us off."
Both squads have had their moments heading into tonight's 7 p.m. tip-off.
Mountain Pointe won its first eight games, kind of snuck up on some people, before losing six straight. The great start belied the fact that the team had virtually an entirely new roster.
The losing streak ended Tuesday night when the Pride (9-6) won 72-57 on the road at Mountain Ridge.
The good thing is four of those defeats during the streak happened in tournament action so it didn't affect the power ranking record, which is still strong at 6-2.
"We just needed to get that one win to get it going again," Mountain Pointe coach Brian Fleming said. "The Brophy loss (81-79 on Jan. 5) was an emotional loss. We had a seven-point lead late and didn't finish. I thought it was going to be the one to get us going again."
After that Mountain Pointe was hammered by top-ranked Corona del Sol, 75-53.
A losing streak of any significant time can mess with a team's psyche and chemistry. Each mounting loss, if not handled right, becomes like a tick on a dog.
It sucks the life blood out of a team, but it appears the Pride handled it as well as can be expected.
"We had some chemistry things pop up, but we took care of it with team dinners and stuff like that," senior Marcus Ramirez said. "We're good now. We know that we can come back and put together another win streak."
Fleming, who has led the Pride to two consecutive 22-win seasons, said the potential is there if they only realized it.
"If they ever figure out how good they could be we will be fine," Fleming said. "We have a tough stretch ahead of us, starting with Desert Vista, where we are going to have to beat some top teams.
"Every week is going to be tough the rest of the way. We have to beat the teams we should and then win some of those games against teams ranked higher than us."
Desert Vista sits at the top of the power rankings, even after Tuesday's 52-44 loss to Corona del Sol.
The Thunder is in a good position currently at 13-7 overall, 10-2 in power rankings, but Williams wants more - especially from his backcourt.
Throughout his coaching career, at the club and junior college level, his teams have always been guard oriented.
Right now, Desert Vista is relying heavily on forward Danny Powell (21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) even though the Thunder won two recent games while Powell sat out to deal with injuries - both physical and mental.
"We felt he needed some time to get his mind and body right," said Williams, who added that Powell has battled hip and back pain. "He saw a chiropractor last year, but we didn't go that far this time. We played a couple of teams we felt we could beat without him so we took a chance."
Desert Vista, which is without 6-foot-7 KJ Hoffman because of a leg injury, was able to defeat Sandra Day O'Connor and Marcos de Niza in his absence. But when Powell returned they came up short against Corona.
"Those teams (SDO and MDN) let us get out and run," Williams said. "The guards played well, but against a team like Corona, where you have to grind it out, our guards struggle. We have to be able to make plays (at the guard position) even if you are not scoring. You have to be able to make everyone around you better."
Williams hinted at some rotation adjustments for the Thunder. Up to this point, the main ball handlers are senior Jeff Lowery, junior Greg Carter, and junior John Marshall.
Against Corona that trio combined for two points, seven rebounds, and eight assists.
Williams knows there is some time before the Feb. 8 sectional tournament to get things going in the direction he wants, but at the same time they've been together since Oct. 31.
"I feel like we are going to be all right," he said. "We played Corona tough, where other teams have been blown out.
"I see the potential in this team, and I'm trying to make sure we get everything out of this season that we can."
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