Jackie Clayton must have done something to really tick off the basketball gods. Or maybe they were just looking the other way during last night’s 5A-II girls basketball high school state championship game.
After all, wasn’t this supposed to be a story book ending for the Pinnacle High School team that has let the crown slip through their hands after reaching the title game the last three years – but made it back to the championship game for one more try?
Clayton, Pinnacle’s head coach, watched her team’s title hopes slip away again as Tolleson HS pulled out to a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter and never looked back again as they snatched the trophy one more time, 52-43. They’ve won it three of the past four years – last year taking it from Pinnacle in a heart-breaking two-point decision.
Thoughts of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he tries to kick it must have gone through her head at some point. It happens to Charlie year after year. And that’s just what Clayton has gone through.
You might say that Tolleson looks a lot like Lucy to the Pinnacle coach.
And to make matters, worse, Clayton was going for win No. 100 as a coach. Good grief!
Hey, it’s an outstanding accomplishment to have done what the Pioneers did over the past four years! Has any other team managed to get to the very top four years in a row? In any sport?
Sure, there were some great battles going on in the other 5A games last night. In 5A-II boys competition, Boulder Creek HS won on a Ryan Zettle 3-point shot with 17 seconds left in regulation to win its first state basketball championship by beating Chaparral HS, 59-58. In girls 5A-II, No. 10 Dobson HS was trying to pull a huge upset over No. 1 St. Mary’s HS. Dobson made it to overtime on a three-point bank shot by Andrea Jones with three seconds left in regulation, and then won it by two points (61-59) on a repeat performance by Jones, who scored the last field goal with just six ticks on the clock.
But you just knew that any of the fans following girls basketball were tuned in to the results of the Pinnacle-Tolleson game. It had to be the story of the tournament this year.
Tolleson was generally recognized as the best 5A-II team in the state this year; the girls hadn’t lost a game all year to a 5A-II team. And they had already beaten Pinnacle earlier when the two teams met up in the MLK Holiday Classic in January. Tolleson won that one by 30 points.
This time around, Sydney Wiese, a freshman, stepped up to help Pinnacle exorcise its demons, scoring a team-high 12 points. But Tolleson countered with 19 points from Rebecca Woodbury, a junior who is the team captain. But, just as important, they had an answer for Pinnacle’s 6’5″ junior post, Aley Rohde, who scored 22 points in the semi-final game against Ironwood HS. Rohde was held to five points in the title game.
The Pinnacle girls had said before the game that they had hoped for another match-up with Tolleson. They wanted to even the score and prove they were worthy of finally reaching the ‘pinnacle’ (sorry) of girls basketball.
The even had T-shirts made that boldly proclaimed, “Operation: State Title”. They were definitely focused. Focused on the title and on a rematch with their old nemesis, Tolleson.
There’s an old adage that says “Be careful what you wish for… it could come true.” Maybe Pinnacle should have considered that for the front of their t-shirts.