Aaron Windler was on one knee and shaking his head.
The position wasn’t all that familiar for the new Mountain Pointe boys basketball coach but the end result was as the Pride lost on Tuesday night to Marcos de Niza in a way that they’ve come to know all too well.
Marcos senior Quinton Blue made one of two free throws with 2 seconds left to lift the Padres to a 56-55 win over Mountain Pointe.
Marcos (4-0) secured the win despite giving up a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead (51-44) and making just one of six free throws down the stretch.
“Mountain Pointe was hungry for a win,” Padres coach David Stark said. “Both teams had a chance to win it at the end. We’ve been trying to get these guys to focus defensively and these guys stepped up.”
Mountain Pointe fell to 0-3 with two of the defeats coming against Marcos. In all three games, the Pride has shown glimpses of what Windler is trying to accomplish in the early going but for the most part there have been too many turnovers and missed free throws to come out on the positive side of the scoreboard.
“Other than a bad stretch in the second quarter we played extremely hard,” Windler said. “It really comes down to free throws, all three games. We have to do a better job of that and it’s been the difference in three games.
“I thought we did a nice job of coming back and did some nice things as a team, but obviously it comes down turning the ball over and making free throws and we haven’t executed well enough to win.”
Against Marcos, the Pride scored the first eight points of the third quarter after a 30-30 tie at the intermission, but then the Padres went on a 16-1 run spanning the rest of the third quarter and 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the fourth quarter for a 46-39 lead.
Mountain Pointe righted itself, mostly because of Tre Campbell, and took a 55-53 lead on Holloway’s 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining only to see Richard Gittens’ tip-in to tie it.
The game’s final seconds were not kind to the Pride as Marcos missed two free throws with 6 seconds left and the Pride pushed the ball up for the floor and called a timeout. They in-bounded from half court with three seconds left only to have a shaky offensive foul called on Chris Davis, sending Windler to his knee in disbelief to set up Blue’s winning shot.
Marcos’ Gittens and Devin White had 16 points apiece and Anthony Varela had 10. Holloway had 17 and Campbell added 15 points for Mountain Pointe.
“We have to buy in and play more as a team,” Holloway said. “He is a good coach and he has put us in a good position, but we haven’t done things we need to do, like making free throws, to win. Once we get that first one, we will get it going.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN