Frustration. That has to be the keyword leading into today’s 5A state high school championship basketball games.
Several team finalists will have a chance to put an end to years of frustration for their schools. But, for at least one individual, the frustration will linger on well after his senior season.
Frustration No. 1: the unresolved.
Jahii Carson, the senior point guard for Mesa High School, scored 58 points – more than many teams put up during a regular-season game – and his Jackrabbits still lost their bid to get into the 5A-I finals, falling to Brophy Prep, 96-82.
Carson, who will be in an Arizona State uniform next year, fell just five points short of eclipsing the state record for points in a game. And he might have made the mark if he hadn’t fouled out with 1:35 left in the game.
But the old adage that a team that spreads the scoring around will always overcome an opponent that relies on one ‘star’ certainly applied here. Carson took 38 shots, while the rest of the team combined for 22.
The only other Mesa player that contributed significantly to the scoring was Desmond Medder, who had 16. Brophy, on the other hand, had four players in double figures, including a pair who tied for game-high with 21 points apiece: James Harper and Fred Gammage.
Frustration No. 2: getting over the hump
Speaking of Brophy Prep, the Phoenix all-boys school will play Mountain View High School from Mesa for all the marbles, trying to win its first-ever state title in hoops.
The Broncos have climbed the mountain to this point twice in the past, playing in the championship game in 1986 and again in 2001. But that big ol’ trophy eluded them both times.
Adding to the frustration of the long drought in basketball is the fact that Brophy – a power in football and dominant in swimming and golf – has so many state championship trophies in its trophy case that the missing hardware for hoops is hardly noticed.
But don’t tell that to the basketball team. They want this one in the worst way, and proved that by overcoming a very good Mesa team that beat them twice in the regular season.
But getting past Mountain View isn’t going to be easy. The No. 4 Toros destroyed top-seeded Buena High School from Sierra Vista, 67-39, in the semi-finals.
They led 18-2 after the first quarter and were never challenged. And that’s been the case all the way through the state tournament, as the margin of victory has averaged out to over 26 points a game.
The Toros spread their scoring around nicely, with Jaren Sweeney‘s 18 points leading the way against Buena.
Mountain View also brings some frustration with it to the title game, having lost last year just a game short of the championship contest.
Frustration No. 3 – Utter futility
We saved the best for last.
Last year we ran the story of the Pinnacle High School (Phoenix) girls’ team losing in the championship game to Tolleson High School, 52-43. The artwork that ran with it was a picture of Lucy pulling the football away as Charlie Brown tries to kick it – an annual event for the poor little guy in the Peanuts cartoon strip.
The reason was simple: It was the third year in a row that Pinnacle made it all the way to the title game, only to be repeatedly denied.
Today, the Pioneers go for a fourth straight try at the title – and a little revenge at the same time.
Pinnacle meets Tolleson again in the first of four games today at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. Pinnacle is the ultimate challenger and Tolleson is the ultimate defender, having won the 5A-II title that last two years.
The top-seeded Tolleson squad (26-5) made little work of No. 5 Westview High School from Avondale in the semis to earn the match-up with Pinnacle again, while the Pioneers had to fight past lightly-regarded No. 10 Horizon High School from Scottsdale for a 65-61 victory.
That game wasn’t decided until the final two minutes and took an offensive display from the Pioneer’s sophomore guard, Sydney Wiese, who poured in 35 points to propel Pinnacle to the title game.
On paper, it would appear that the frustration for Pinnacle and Brophy will likely continue until next season.
But it’s play-off time, when all assumptions go out the window.
Besides, we’d hate to have to pull out that Charlie Brown picture again.