Dave Williams' whole coaching philosophy revolves around discipline.
It’s brought up in every practice and interview. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn it was his middle name.
It helps in emotional, crazy crowd environments like the one that surfaced at the Storm Center in Friday’s 53-40 over rival Mountain Pointe.
“We all know our roles,” senior post player Harris Tucakovic said. “I don’t score a lot but my job is to play defense and rebound. When we all stay in our roles we are pretty good.”
The Thunder (10-10) came in losers of two straight, but senior Kyle Pitman made sure it didn’t reach three.
He opened the game with a 3-pointer from the right side, hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer for a 26-19 lead and connected on another 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 43-32.
The only thing left after that was waiting for the Desert Vista student body rushing the floor.
“It got me in a rhythm to start,” Pittman said of the opening trey that led to a 15-point night. “In big games you have to hit big shots.”
The game was tied at 13 after the first quarter, but the Thunder controlled the rest of the game as the Pride (7-8) couldn’t get much going offensively other than senior Khari Holloway, who finished with 16 unofficially.
“We just did not execute well offensively, we didn’t execute defensively,” Pride coach Aaron Windler said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Desert Vista because they did some good things and hit some big shots in important times to stretch the lead.
“I’m just really disappointed in our execution. We didn’t attack the basket very well, and we only had three free throws. A big part of it was not being physical enough and aggressive enough.”
The atmosphere was pretty raucous and Windler admitted the team had trouble communicating at times, but the Thunder’s discipline allowed to them take round one of the rivalry this season.
“We just played our game in a tough, emotional game,” Pitman said. “We took advantage of what they gave us. This was a big win in a rivalry game and hopefully it helps us going forward.”
Tre Campbell followed Holloway with seven points, while Emmanuel Butler had 12 rebounds.
The Thunder was led by Pitman while Greg Carter added nine and David Powell had eight.
Desert Vista played well defensively, allowing very few points in the paint, forcing the Pride to shoot outside almost exclusively.
“We needed this one,” Williams said. “We lost two in a row that two or three plays would have made the difference. If we would have shown some discipline we’d be sitting here in much better shape, but this was a good win.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.