The presence of a big man in the middle and Kendall Wallace’s shooting down the stretch proved decisive as Mountain View downed Desert Vista, 58-53, in the MLK Basketball Classic on Monday at Arizona State’s Wells Fargo Arena.
Wallace scored 18 points, 13 in the final period, and Mountain View broke a 45-45 tie with a 13-8 surge in the last 3 minutes, 12 seconds. Wallace hit 8 of 10 free throws in the stretch.
Teammate Harper Kamp, a 6-foot-8 junior, added three points in the final minutes. He scored 15 points in the game, including 10 in the first half, and had both coaches praising his efforts after the game.
"The difference was that they had a guy they could go to in the middle . . . someone they could go to in crunch time," Desert Vista coach Doug Harris said of Kamp, who continues to get stronger in his recovery from a broken foot, which kept him sidelined for much of the season.
"He is getting more in shape. He’s getting his energy and stability back," Toros coach Gary Ernst said. "That was the biggest difference tonight."
The Toros (14-3) were looking to avenge a 63-61 loss to the Thunder (15-4) in late December.
"They came out a little bit harder, a little bit feistier," Harris said. "They had a revenge factor in there. That’s the team we’ll probably meet up again with (in the playoffs), hopefully."
Mountain View jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but Desert Vista answered with back-toback 3-pointers by Garrett Lever and Wilson Bibleheimer.
Lever was 4-for-5 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points. Teammates Ty Abbot and Travis Minor came off the bench and scored 10 points apiece. Bibleheimer scored 8 points.
The foursome kept the Thunder close, as the game saw 15 lead changes, including seven in the first half. Lever scored 16 points in the first half and Desert Vista trailed 26-23 heading into halftime.
"They were on fire. They had a lot of good spurts," Kamp said of the Thunder. "They can hit the 3-pointer, so there are a lot of long rebounds. We just had to keep our heads in the game and get some good boards."
Mountain View built a six-point lead with 3:34 left in the third quarter, but Desert Vista put together a 15-9 run that tied the game at 45 with 3:30 to play. That’s when Wallace went to work from the free throw line.