3 was the magic number for Mountain Pointe, in what was supposed the pool play “grand finale” of the Welcome to the Jungle Thanksgiving Tournament; between the 7th ranked Pride and 2nd ranked Pinnacle. However, it turned in to a 3 point barrage by the Pride, as they connected on 13 three point shots; on their way to an 81-45 drubbing of Pinnacle.
The 3 point shot is a big part of Coach Eason’s offensive attack, but tonight his team found the bottom of the net early and often. Junior point guard Khalid Price and Ryan Pate hit three each in the first half. Terrance Hunter and Rashaan Toombs at two each, and Amarion Cash, John Norsworthy and Jonah LaBranche each hit one. “Before we left for the game, the boys had a light shoot-around that turned into shooting competitions.” Eason said. “I guess it carried over, because they shot with confidence.” While the guards were bombing away from outside, Junior forward Jalen Graham continued his paint dominance with dunks, put backs, and post moves. It was an inside-out game, which seemed impossible to stop, as the Pride took a 48-28 lead into half time.
As was the case against Desert Ridge, “55” full court press put a strangle hold on it’s opponent in the second half, holding Pinnacle to just 17 points in the second half. “Many people believe pressing is to force turnovers, they couldn’t be more wrong.” Eason explains. “Turnovers are the bi-product of pressure. As the legs start to get weary; passes and shots begin to lose their depth. That’s when we strike the hardest.” Eason credits his player’s buy in to the pre-season conditioning program. “Those areas have increased our proficiency tremendously. Guys are fresher longer, because they are in great shape.” The shape, coupled with the depth made Pinnacle suffocate under the relentless aggression of the “55” press.
Price and Graham led MP with 17 points apiece; followed by Pate’s 14. 9 of the 12 players that played scored for the Pride. It was definitely a team effort on both ends.
The Pride take the floor Friday night at 5pm in the championship game against Westview, at Gilbert High. Come out and cheer for the boys, as they go after their first championship under Coach Eason.