Dorian Pickens may be the most efficient offensive player in Arizona.
The junior small forward leads the Pinnacle boys basketball team in scoring but is always economical with his shots.
On Thursday he threw caution to the wind, and it turns out the newfound volume shooter can be just as deadly from the floor with more attempts.
Pickens took 18 shots for just the third time this season and hit 12 of them for a career-high 32 points to lead the Pioneers to a 69-59 win over Cesar Chavez in the Division I state semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena.
Pickens had 12 points in the first quarter to set the tone after a pre-game talk from coach Charlie Wilde about being more aggressive.
“I have to tell him that every once in awhile,” Wilde said. “That (unselfishness) is why everybody loves him. But he was (looking to score early) and it was nice for us to be able to do that.”
The Pioneers trailed for just 36 seconds in the game and the lead was never below six points in the second half.
Pinnacle got some redemption after losing to Chavez in last year’s semifinals.
“We just wanted to come out and play hard,” Pickens said. “Last year when we lost to them, I feel like we came out soft.”
Drew Bender, who is still nursing an ankle injury which he originally thought would sideline him for the playoffs, scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including a pair of 3-pointers late in the third quarter which stretched the lead to 14 points.
Pablo Rivas (22 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, three blocks) did what he could to keep the Champions within striking distance, and a 3-pointer by Will Holt cut the deficit to six points with 1:22 remaining, but the Pioneers controlled this one throughout.
Pinnacle has now won 16 consecutive games and will face either No. 1 Corona del Sol or No. 5 Desert Mountain in the Division I title game on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Jobing.com Arena.
The Pioneers lost to the Aztecs by four points in the VisitMesa.com Challenge and are 3-0 against Desert Mountain this year.
Pickens said making the championship game is a great feeling, but the Pioneers aren’t satisfied.
“We’re definitely not done yet,” he said.
Pinnacle 19 15 16 19 -- 69
Cesar Chavez 12 15 11 21 -- 59
Pinnacle: Pickens 32, Bender 16, Ingram 8, Donovan 5, Andari 4, Stoddard 2, Wahlberg 2.
Cesar Chavez: Rivas 22, Holt 9, Salazar 9, Claiborne 5, Herrera 4, L. Smith 3, Alexander 3, T. Smith 2, Bell 2.