As was the case back on Nov. 24 when Pinnacle and Mountain Pointe got together in the championship game of the Lady Hawk Basketball Tournament, Saturday’s Division I, Section III girls final showcased two of the bigger stars in Arizona: the Pioneers’ Sydney Wiese and the Pride’s Kayla Lupoe.
The two dominated the first half of action at Chaparral, as Lupoe’s Mountain Pointe squad took a slim 30-28 lead over Wiese and Co. after 16 minutes of play.
While Wiese (who scored 12 of her team-high 20 points in the second quarter) and Lupoe (22 points, nine rebounds and two blocks) served as the contest’s opening act, when it came time for one team to force some semblance of separation, it was forward Britta Nordstrom who took over for Pinnacle.
The Pioneers (28-2) outscored Mountain Pointe 18-6 in the third quarter, as Nordstrom aggressively took the ball to the basket possession after possession with every intention of wearing down the Pride’s interior defense.
The tactical adjustment worked, as the senior scored nine points in the quarter and opened the game wide open en route to Pinnacle’s 52-46 win in the section final.
“I told Britta at halftime to just have a lot fun out there,” coach Troy Wiese said. “She just needed to loosen up and play her game a little more. In the second half, she continued to attack offensively and started making shots.”
Although Nordstrom lacks the star power of Wiese, the senior said she relishes the opportunity to do whatever it takes to help her team win games.
“Everyone knows Sydney is our star, but I just try to do what my team needs me to do,” Nordstrom said. “If that’s scoring more or playing tough defense, then I’ll do it. “
While Pinnacle left the gymnasium all smiles, Pride coach Trevor Neider said his squad was rather dejected following their second defeat at the hands of the Pioneers this season.
Mountain Pointe (25-5) certainly put together a more complete performance in their second crack at Pinnacle, however, the team’s small lapse following halftime proved to be too much to overcome.
“I thought we played really hard and, look, Pinnacle’s a great team,” Neider said. “As far as game plan-wise goes, we did everything we wanted to do and were right there. We got beat in the third quarter on box-outs and those quick putbacks. That was the difference right there.
“We got stuck on the defensive end a little bit, and when they scored on extra shots it took our will a little bit. We fell a little flat, our legs got tired and we fell out of rhythm.”
Although the Pride’s collective confidence may have taken a bit of a hit Saturday night, Neider believes his girls should hold their heads high after challenging one of the top teams in the state without senior point guard Michelle Luna, who was injured in the section semifinal Thursday.
“I think just playing with them shows what we are capable of doing,” said Neider. “They have some studs on that team, so I’m just happy with the way our girls played and executed.”