Anthony Jaramillo entered the 2021 basketball season embracing a new role with Mountain Pointe.
A starter during the 2019-20 season, he transitioned to a role played previously by TJ Tigler, who quickly became one of the best sixth men in the state and provided a spark to the Pride offense every time he stepped onto the court. Jaramillo took a step in the same direction Friday night against Corona del Sol, as he came off the bench to score 18 points in the Pride’s 82-61 rout of the Aztecs.
“I just make sure whenever I come off the bench, I bring that spark,” Jaramillo said. “I just try to do my best to make sure my teammates are involved, and I’m involved so we can come out and do our job.
“I was just trying to be aggressive.”
Jaramillo’s big night came to an unfortunate ending midway through the fourth quarter, as he went down hard to the floor after being fouled while driving to the basket. The junior guard managed to hobble over to the bench, where he writhed in pain while trainers attended to him.
He was the second player for the Pride to go down with an injury during the contest, as sophomore point guard Mark Brown exited shortly before Jaramillo with an injury. Both players were on crutches after the game, though the severity of either injury was unknown. Jaramillo said he was eager to know the severity of his injury so he could work on returning as soon as possible.
“I was kind of shocked I got injured,” Jaramillo said. “I feel good now, but I just need to do what I can to heal so I can come back.”
In its first home game of the pandemic-delayed season, Mountain Pointe quickly established momentum on both ends of the floor.
The Pride went to the full court press early on, forcing errant passes and turnovers by Corona del Sol players. Jaramillo contributed to the defensive attack with three steals early on, two of which led to points on the other end. Sophomore guard Tru Washington, a transfer from Cesar Chavez, had four steals of his own along with 18 points.
It’s the second consecutive game Washington, a 6-foot-4 guard, finished in double-figures for the Pride. He scored 27 points against Queen Creek in the season opener Tuesday and while he started slow Friday and got into early foul trouble, he was key down the stretch and helped Mountain Pointe maintain its lead.
"We brought a lot of energy," Washington said. "It all starts on defense. We forced a lot of turnovers and defense leads to offense."
Washington and Jaramillo were two of four total Mountain Pointe players to be in double figures for the night. Senior guard Jason Kimbrough added 16 points on 7-of-11 attempts from the field, while senior forward and Utah football signee Zereoue Williams was 5-of-7 for 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“We have a lot of athletes who have skill at a fast pace,” Mountain Pointe coach Kaimarr Price said. “I think that’s our number one battle we have, getting guys to play for each other. They’ve never played on a team in high school where there’s this many weapons. Some nights they’re going to have eight (points) and some nights they’re going to have 30.
“We focus on getting them to play for each other and let them know it’ll come back around to them.”
Mountain Pointe’s run-and-gun style of offense caught Corona del Sol off guard on several occasions, as the Aztecs struggled to get back on defense. On several occasions, the Pride managed to score quick and easy buckets thanks to long outlet passes.
Corona del Sol did, however, manage to stay within striking distance for two quarters thanks largely in part to Roberto Yellowman’s 12 first-half points. The senior guard finished with 20 points overall, while junior guard Quinn Thorne added 19 points of his own.
Price entered the season knowing his team’s talent level would provide opportunities to control the pace of the game, and that proved to be the case Friday.
Mountain Pointe showed the same level of energy last year’s team had in the 6A playoffs, where it knocked off two-time defending champion Pinnacle and Chandler on the way to the 6A title game. But with this year’s team possessing even more talent, Price knows he is working with something special.
But there’s always room for improvement.
“This is the most talented team I’ve played with in my four years of high school,” Kimbrough said. “But the most talented team doesn’t always win championships. We want to be more than just a super talented team, we want to be structurally sound.
“If we add our talent with that discipline, I feel like we can’t be beat.”