Balanced scoring and even better defense can carry a team.
The Pinnacle girls basketball team showed just far those elements will take them. The combination of a changing zone, timely scoring and the ability to beat the press all factored in Pinnacle's 75-49 victory over host Surprise Valley Vista in a 5A Division II quarterfinal game Friday night.
The Pioneers rolled out to an early lead, never trailed and forced the Monsoon into nine first-quarter turnovers. In the process, the tone and foundation of this game was set early as the Pioneers burst out to a 13-point lead at the end of the opening period.
From that point, the cruise control was set, and Pinnacle played steady, if not spectacular basketball, as a driving catalyst toward its semifinal matchup this Monday. Pinnacle will face Glendale Ironwood at 2:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
"We threw some zones at the them and changed defenses to confuse them," Pinnacle coach Jackie Clayton said. "They seem to set them back, and we took advantage."
The result was a strong effort from the Pioneers' twin towers of 6-foot-5 junior Alexandra Rohde and 5-10 senior Victoria Sheaffer. They combined for 34 points with Sheaffer scoring a game-high 19 points. Rohde also chipped with a team-high 8 rebounds.
Sheaffer was particularly effective in the lane.
"I'm a slashing kind of player and like to get behind the defense," she said. "I'm always looking for backdoor chances and to create opportunities. I was able to do that and pick up some points."
Complementing Sheaffer inside, the Pioneers popped six 3-pointers, including one from Sheaffer. Aiding the outside effort was Jj Alli, who hit two 3-pointers as did Sydney Wiese. Libby Valentine added the other 3-pointer.
To augment the an effective offense, the defense also came to play.
Holding a 41-26 advantage at the half, Pinnacle cranked up their defensive effort and limited Valley Vista to just four second-half field goals. So dominating was the defense that the Monsoon failed to score from field in the final period save a layup from Desiree Phillips with 22 seconds left in the game.
The Pioneers had five players in double figures. In addition to Sheaffer's 19 and Rohde's 15, Wiese added 12 points, while Valentine and Alli each contributed 10 points.
Phillips topped Valley Vista with 12 points while Antoinette Miller added 10 points.