First day impressions from the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge
Several of the state’s best boys basketball teams were at Mountain View on Wednesday for the first day of the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge.
Some East Valley squads impressed while others underwhelmed. Here are some thoughts on the action:
* Pinnacle may not have the same depth as last season, but the familiar unselfishness and sweet shooting was still on display against Gilbert Christian. The Pioneers only led by two points early in the second half but went on a huge run and cruised to a 83-61 victory. Drew Bender sprained his ankle last week in a tournament in Las Vegas and was limited, but others stepped up. Dorian Pickens had 17 points, Trey Ingram 15 and Lee Andari 10. Pinnacle shot 58.5 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from 3. Without Cody McDavis, Chris Klima and Kevin Bowman from last year’s team, Pinnacle now relies more on Bender and Dorian Pickens, but the role players showed their worth in this one. Ingram, Andari and Co. will be key moving forward.
* Dobson used a flurry of late points to make its loss to Los Angeles Pacific Hills look more respectable at 74-69, but it was another mediocre showing for the Mustangs. The team didn’t move the ball very well in the half court and played with little energy. Jaron Hopkins had 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting but didn’t get much help. Dobson is still inconsistent and trying to find itself.
* Mountain View also struggled. The Toros were dreadful offensively and never challenged Mercer Island (Wash.) in a 51-34 loss. Mountain View has played a lot of games recently and traveled for a tournament two weeks ago, so it could just be tired legs, but there’s no doubt Payton Dastrup needs some help. He had a subpar game Wednesday and Mountain View couldn’t go to anyone else.
* After a shaky first few games to start the season, Corona del Sol continues to look good. Casey Benson played extremely well again as the Aztecs defeated Canada Waterloo Collegiate Institute 72-36 for their eighth straight win. Benson scored 25 points and seemed to always make the correct decisions while running the offense. Corona del Sol doesn’t have much size and went up against a team with three players 6-foot-6 or taller, but captured the rebounding edge by 14. The Aztecs swarmed down low defensively and continually forced tough shots. Corona del Sol was without forward Ashton Howard, who will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL two weeks ago, but the Aztecs had plenty of talent to cruise in this one. Corona del Sol lost three impact starters from last year’s championship team, but with Benson leading the way is looking like a contender again.