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Breaking down the Division I boys basketball quarterfinals

Posted by on February 18, 2013 – 2:57 pm

Five East Valley teams are still alive in the Division I boys basketball tournament. Here is a look at their quarterfinal matchups:

No. 5 Desert Mountain vs. No. 4 Mesa
When: Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Arena
Records: Mesa 25-5; Desert Mountain 24-5
Key players: Desert Mountain – PG Rolando Rhymes (15.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.1 spg); SG Diego Magana (10.7 ppg, 42% 3FG); PF Mark Andrews (7.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg). Mesa – SG DJ Henderson (15.6 ppg; 2.7 apg); C Isaac Allen (8.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.7 bpg); PG Jalen Jenkins (8.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.2 apg);  SG Christian Harris (10.4 ppg).
Outlook: These teams met on Jan. 8 and Desert Mountain pulled out a 49-47 victory. Rolando Rhymes dominated that game, scoring 28 points. Mesa made the decision to give him space while clinging to the Wolves’ deadly 3-point shooters, and Rhymes took advantage. It will be interesting to see the Jackrabbits’ defensive game plan in this one. Isaac Allen had a big game the first time around and has a significant height advantage on Desert Mountain forward Mark Andrews. If DJ Henderson and Christian Harris get open looks they are good 3-point shooters, but Desert Mountain did a good job slowing them down in the first meeting. These teams seem evenly matched and this one could very well go down to the final seconds once again.
Prediction: Mesa 55, Desert Mountain 53

No. 11 Gilbert vs. No. 3 Pinnacle
When: Tuesday, 4:15 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Arena
Records: Gilbert 24-7; Pinnacle 24-6
Key players: Gilbert – SG Conner Helvig (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.0 spg); PF Truman Moore (9.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg); PG Anthony Bryant (7.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.1 apg). Pinnacle – SF Dorian Pickens (16.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2.6 spg, 53% FG); PG Trey Ingram (11.2 ppg, 3.6 apg); PF Lee Andari (8.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
Outlook: Pinnacle has now won 14 straight games after dispatching Cienega 73-59 in the second round, but it will have to win this game without Drew Bender. The team’s second-leading scorer injured his ankle in practice last week and said he will miss the rest of the season. The senior, who is committed to Rice, averaged 13.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during the season and his absence is a huge blow to the Pioneers, who made the Division I semifinals last season. Gilbert lost two games late in the regular season to slip to a double-digit seed, but its presence here is not a surprise. The Tigers rallied to beat Chaparral in the second round and has the talent to win this game, too. Tigers forward Truman Moore is an emerging big man, and a good game from him down low would be a huge help. Dorian Pickens will be the best player on the court, and he will need to have a big game for the Bender-less Pioneers to advance. Pinnacle is the better outside-shooting team, but if Gilbert can hit shots it has a good chance to advance.
Prediction: Gilbert 61, Pinnacle 55

No. 8 Millennium vs. No. 1 Corona del Sol
When: Tuesday, 7:45 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Arena
Records: Corona del Sol 26-4; Millennium 24-5
Key players: Corona del Sol – PG Casey Benson; SF Bryan Siefker; PF Cassius Peat, SG Adam Gleave. Millennium: SG Jordan Martin (20.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.4 spg); PF Elston Jones (13.3 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 3.9 bpg); SF Ramon Franklin (9.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
Outlook: The Aztecs are coming off an exhilarating 66-65 double overtime victory over Mountain Pointe, a game they probably should have lost. Now it’s imperative for Corona del Sol to bounce back from that emotional roller coaster in time for this matchup with the Tigers. Millennium didn’t play against a single East Valley team this year, so it’s a bit of an unkown. Jordan Martin is the go-to guy on offense, and Corona del Sol defensive stopper Bryan Siefker will almost certainly match up with him. The biggest storyline in this game will be how the Aztecs handle Elston Jones, the Tigers’ 6-foot-10 junior standout. Corona del Sol doesn’t have a player taller than 6-foot-4 in the rotation, so team rebounding will be important. On the flip side, Millennium could have trouble slowing down a Corona del Sol offense which excels in moving the ball and finding open shots.
Prediction: Corona del Sol 68, Millennium 56

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