It took a combined 35 games before Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe boys basketball teams faced off this season.
All of that pent up anticipation led to an uneven game in front of a big crowd that saw Desert Vista hold on for a 58-57 win at Mountain Pointe.
The Thunder had what looked to be a comfortable 11-point, fourth-quarter lead when Danny Powell hit a 3-pointer with 2 minutes and 15 seconds left for a 56-45 advantage.
But anyone who has followed the Thunder this season knows no lead is safe.
"You would think they would have learned by now," Desert Vista coach Dave Williams said. "They are going to kill me."
After a three-point play by Marcus Ramirez and a 3-pointer by Jordan Bellamy, the Pride (9-7 overall, 6-3 in power rankings) was within 58-55 as they took advantage of a couple of turnovers by the Thunder (14-7, 11-2).
Desert Vista had a chance to ice it with 12 seconds left but Jeff Lowery missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Mountain Pointe secured the rebound. After a getting the ball to half court, the Pride called a timeout. Everyone knew Mountain Pointe was going to run a play for sharp shooter Austin Witherill.
He was fouled in the act of shooting the game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds remaining. He made the first free throw, the second one circled the rim and came out and he made the third.
Witherill, who finished with 10 points, took the brunt of the loss, feeling he let the team down, but as all good shooters know there will be other opportunities.
"I'll learn from it and there will be more chances," he said. "The next time I have to knock them down."
Pride coach Brian Fleming didn't have any worries about Witherill's confidence or the team's psyche despite losing by one possession for the fifth time this season.
"He'll be fine," he said. "He'll coming out firing the first one out of the chute. Our kids played with a lot of heart and energy. They willed their way into the position we were in."
Fleming was pleased with everything other than the team's start to the third quarter after trailing 31-29 at the half.
"We played a pretty good ballgame," Fleming said. "We just didn't have it to start (the third quarter). It was just kind of a lull. We got down eight quick and had to fight our way back."
The Thunder controlled most of the game after the first quarter as the 6-foot-5 Powell (21 points, 8 rebounds) was the focus per usual but he got some help from Kyle Pitman and Deonte Harrington, who combined for 11 points but also kept possessions alive with key rebounds or came up with a steal or block on the other end.
It was needed with both Lowery (6 points) and junior guard Greg Carter (3 points) in a bit of a funk and junior guard John Marshall out with a back injury.
"They did some things that we needed to get this win," Williams said. "Steve Klein, too. Danny is a great player but we can't keep relying on him. We still have some discipline problems, but we are getting there."
Williams was happy that his team bounced back and showed some resiliency after losing 52-44 to Corona del Sol on Tuesday.
"For them to come back and play like this after the letdown against Corona was big," he said. "We played very inspirational tonight."
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Desert Vista 58, Mountain Pointe 57
DV 17 14 18 9 - 58
MP 18 11 12 17 - 57
DV - Greg Carter 0-3-3, Jeff Lowery 3-0-6, Steve Klein 3-2-9, Danny Powell 9-1-21, Connor MacDougall 4-0-8, Kyle Pittman2-0-6, Deonte Harrington 2-0-5.
MP - Jalen Brown 2-1-5, Austin Witherill 3-2-10, Khari Holloway 5-4-16, Tre Campbell 0-2-2, Marcus Ramirez 3-1-8, Jordan Bellamy 2-2-7, Fareed Mateen 3-2-8.