Split down the middle

Desert Vista's Danny Powell splits two Pinnacle players Dorian Pickens#22 and #34 Kevin Bowman for a rebound during their Friday night game at Chaparral High school in Scottsdale.

Heading into Friday night's Division I, Section III boys basketball semifinal, Desert Vista was the only team in Arizona with a winning record against Pinnacle.

The Pioneers were well aware.

Second-ranked Pinnacle avenged an early season loss by dominating for four quarters in a 64-34 victory at Chaparral. The Pioneers will face off with Desert Mountain for the sectional championship on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Chaparral.

The Thunder traveled to Pinnacle for the first power points game of the year on Nov. 29 and pulled out an easy 70-55 victory, but the Pioneers were ready from the opening tip in this one.

It was 20-4 after the first quarter and the lead grew to as much as 25 in the first half.

"I thought we owed them one," Pinnacle forward Cody McDavis said. "(In the first meeting), we didn't come ready to play. We thought we deserved to win because of our jerseys, because of who we are. We didn't earn it that first game of the season, but in this one we came out hot and ready to play."

Drew Bender led the way with 19 points, six assists and three blocks and Dorian Pickens added 16 points. The victory moved the Pioneers up to No. 2 in the Division I power rankings after a long stay in double digits for much of the season.

"We were all hyped up," Bender said. "We wanted to show everyone we were the real deal, that we should be higher in power points. I think we showed something tonight."

Desert Vista struggled shooting the ball all night, hitting only 3-of-16 from 3-point range as Pinnacle took control early and never looked back. Danny Powell had 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Thunder, but shot just 4-of-15 from the floor. Jeff Lowery was 1-for-9 and had only five points.

It was McDavis' second game back from a sprained ankle and his first start since the injury. He was expected to be out until the beginning of the state tournament but healed ahead of schedule.

"We were shocked (he could play)," Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said. "That's a credit to him. As hard as he works on the basketball court, he worked that hard in rehab. You can never underestimate someone with a work ethic and an attitude like that."

McDavis finished with six points and eight rebounds.

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