Friends off the court, but enemies on it, the guards for the Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe’s boys’ basketball teams were expecting a respectful but heated battle Friday night in Ahwatukee.
“It’s always a tough fight, always,” said Desert Vista coach Gino Crump of the intense longstanding rivalry.
But at least for this night, the young Thunder guards, led by sophomores Desean Leqcue (18 points) and Andrew King (22), could claim bragging rights over the older opponents they matched up against.
“It’s showing off all the hard work we’ve put in. We’ve put in a lot of work on and off the court, so it’s good to see the dominance on the court against older guys,” added King.
Even in a loss, Mountain Pointe’s guards proved their own skill level, too.
Pride junior Jason Kimbrough scored 19 and senior Miles Sulka added 12, including a wild buzzer-beating layup to tie the score at 52-52 at the end of the third quarter, and the Pride kept it close throughout.
The pair of backcourts traded big shots and drew shooting fouls for the entire 32 minutes. But, Desert Vista started the fourth quarter hot from beyond the arc, and ran ahead with a lead it would never squander.
“They depend on me to shoot the three, so I just had to pull out this game and show what I can do,” King said.
He added that a tough win in enemy territory was a positive omen for the rest of the season.
“We had to pull it out. It was a close game and they were beating us, so it feels good,” he said.
And, Friday’s game will not be the last time the Thunder’s young crop of ballhandlers will have to battle older backcourts.
At 16-2, facing the rest of its 6A central section play and, as the players hope, an ensuing playoff run, Desert Vista’s young guards proved just one more time Friday that they can hang with the big boys. In fact, they look forward to the challenge.
“My goal is to try to win a ring every year,” Lecque said.
“So, it’s always cool when we get a win. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. It’s just the mentality that age doesn’t matter.”