After a stretch of close games, Mountain Pointe was finally able to pull away from a team and convincingly defeated Desert Ridge Tuesday night 85-53. Mountain Pointe’s impressive size and length was just too overpowering for Desert Ridge, who had no answer for Sophomore Deandre Henry inside. The Pride, who improve to 22-2, continue to prove why they are one of the top teams in Arizona and a legit threat to take home the state championship.
Believe it or not, this game was once competitive. Desert Ridge came out the gate firing, clearly placing an emphasis on outside shooting and a fast pace of play. They were able to easily dismantle the typically lockdown Mountain Pointe press, and as a result were finding and making open threes. On the defensive end, their 3-2 zone was giving the Pride fits as they were unable to get the ball down low or create any open shots. Despite their sizeable athletic advantage, Mountain Pointe needed a last second shot to take a 36-35 halftime lead.
“They came out strong, and we came out kind of sloppy,” said Mountain Pride coach Duane Eason. “But because of our depth we were able to kind of wear them down. Like I’ve always said your starting five may be better than our starting five, but our ten is better than your ten.”
Once the second half began, the better team emerged and took complete control of the game. In a tactical decision that looked strange at the time and even worse in retrospect, Desert Ridge head coach Greg Ream decided to switch from their previously successful 3-2 zone defense to man defense. The rest as they say, was history. Henry, the previously mentioned 6’7 big man played even bigger against the criminally undersized Jaguar defense. He was truly un-guardable underneath the basket and proved to be the deciding factor in a game that was over well before the final buzzer sounded.
“When they went to man we knew we could run different things and get him to score inside,” said Eason. “He was just able to bully his was inside there. We’re working day by day to make him better, whether it’s improving his footwork, sealing properly in the post, boxing out, swimming around the defense for offensive rebounds, everything. Sometimes he relies too much on his physical gifts, and that’s just not going to work against better teams.”
On nights like these, all Henry needed to dominate the game were his physical gifts. He was the fulcrum for the Mountain Pointe offense, scoring down low, passing to open shooters, and collecting his fair share of offensive rebounds. When speaking about any possible difficulties he faced scoring on the Desert Ridge defense, he was brutally honest.
“It was pretty easy,” said Henry, cracking a small smirk. “Before the game I was looking at their size and looking at my size and I just knew I had to be dominant. I knew I had to get a lot of rebounds and score a lot of points and basically just show out tonight.”
Going forward, the road to dominance won’t be as easy for Henry and his Mountain Pointe teammates. The team travels to Corona del Sol on Friday, then finishes their season next week against Gilbert. Desert Ridge, who fell to 8-16, will look to scrape together two victories in their final games against Desert Vista and Highland.