As Trey Ingram grew comfortable being the third scoring option for the Pinnacle boys basketball team this year, the Pioneers took off.
And when they needed him even more with a semifinal berth on the line, he was ready for that challenge, too.
Ingram scored 12 points to help No. 3 Pinnacle defeat No. 11 Gilbert, 50-45, on Thursday night in the Division I quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Arena.
Pinnacle has now won 15 straight games and qualified for the semifinals for the third straight year. It will play No. 2 Cesar Chavez on Thursday at 4:15 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
Senior Drew Bender, who is committed to Rice, averages 14.6 points per game but scored only seven against the Tigers.
Ingram stepped in with seven first-quarter points and hit a huge shot from downtown with five seconds remaining in the third quarter to push Pinnacle’s lead to eight.
“I didn’t try to change my game,” Ingram said. “I just tried to go out there and get everybody involved and score when I can.”
The Pioneers led by 14 points at the half as Gilbert struggled making shots. The Tigers rallied after intermission and cut the deficit to four points on a three-pointer by Conner Helvig with 2:13 remaining.
Gilbert had a pair of chances to pull to within one possession, but Anthony Bryant missed a runner and Trevor Spires missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw in the final minute.
“We had a little bit of the yips there (early on),” Gilbert coach Jay Caserio said. “I thought we had some pretty good looks in the beginning right around the basket. It was kind of like golf where we had a two-foot putt but yanked it.”
The Tigers were led by sophomore Truman Moore, who had 13 points and six rebounds. Helvig and Spencer Nicolds added 10 points.
Gilbert lost in the quarterfinals a year ago as well.
“We were here last year, so it’s disappointing, to be honest with you,” Caserio said. “We talked about moving past this hurdle.”
Dorian Pickens led the Pioneers with 13 points. Even though Bender only scored seven points, he added seven rebounds and three assists. Bender originally thought he would be out for the state tournament after injuring his ankle in practice last week.
“I was surprised a little bit that he was rebounding very well tonight,” Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said. “We didn’t know where he would be on that part of the game, jumping off his feet, but obviously he felt pretty good."
Gilbert - 5 10 15 15 -- 45
Pinnacle - 16 13 9 12 -- 50
Gilbert — Moore 13, Helvig 10, Nicolds 10, Reber 8, Bryant 4,
Pinnacle — Pickens 13, Ingram 12, Bender 7, Andari 6, Griffin 6, Stoddard 3, McCormick 3.