What has been a remarkable season, that only needed 6A championship game victory to complete the story book ending, finished with a defeat. The MP boys basketball team loss to Pinnacle 76-60 in the final game of the AIA basketball season, last night at Wells Fargo Arena, on the campus of Arizona State University. “We set a goal of winning a state championship, but we came up short today,” says Coach Eason. “Anytime you come this far, you want to complete the mission.”
Strong starts have been the norm for the team throughout the playoffs, but in this game, they got off to a slow start. “Guys played tight early, and it hurt us on offense and the glass,” Eason said. “In a championship game you have to be able to tune out the noise, the pomp and circumstance, and just play. Our guys didn’t do that in the first half.”
Coach Eason makes numbers and tendencies a big part of his preparation also felt that the percentages favored them, and gave them much of the opportunities he was looking for, but the lack of poise didn’t allow them to capitalize. “It’s my job to make sure they are mentally and physically ready. Physically they were for sure, but we could have made the mental aspect a bigger part of our game prep, especially with a group that’s had little to no real success in high school.”
The offense and defense had a lot of inconsistencies, but Coach Eason pointed to one thing. “Finishing,” he responds. “In basketball you have to finish. Offensively, that means putting the ball in the basket and defensively it means collecting rebounds.” Coach Eason explains. “We had too many missed free throws and lay ups offensively, and gave up too many offensive rebounds early. When you do that, it doesn’t matter who you play, you’re going to lose.”
Despite the loss, this was arguably the best season in the history of the program. The team Won both the Gilbert and McClintock holiday tournaments, set the school record for wins with 26, and a 6A State Runner Up. The school will honor the boys team, but putting the first banner in program history up in the gym this spring. “Watching the growth of our seniors, Ryan Pate, Amarion Cash, John Norsworthy, Terrance Hunter and Selah Thomas gave me great joy.” Coach Eason states. “They laid the foundation for where this program needs to go. It may not have ended the way they wanted, but it’s a far cry from where they were last season; individually and as a team.”
Congrats to the players and coaches for giving us a great season.