Pinnacle is back in familiar territory.
The Pioneers advanced to the 5A-II girls basketball semifinals on Friday with a 71-45 victory over Scottsdale Chaparral. The win moves Pinnacle into the final four for the third consecutive season.
The Pioneers will meet Horizon in next Wednesday’s semifinals at Jobing.com Arena. Peoria Tolleson and Avondale Westview will meet in the other semifinal.
The victory over their 5A Desert Valley Region rivals came relatively easy for the Pioneers who used their size to dominate the paint against the Firebirds. They also used a combination zone and man-to-man defense to stifle Chaparral as the Firebirds struggled to score points.
“We tried to get their bigs away from the basket,” Chaparral coach Marcy Sanchez said. “They have a good post game.”
Pinnacle coach Jackie Clayton refused to comment following her team’s victory.
Pinnacle got 19 points each from forward Aley Rohde and point guard Sydney Wiese. Sophomore Kenna McDavis added 16 points and forward Emily Wahlberg had 10 for the balanced Pioneers.
On defense, the trio of Wiese, Poneoma Jesse and Mandy Jonson were assigned to guard Chaparral guard Casey Rarrick wherever she went.
While the rest of the Pioneers were in a zone defense, Rarrick was chased everywhere.
The Firebird freshman came into the game averaging 13 points per outing. She didn’t get her first basket until three minutes were gone in the third quarter and finished her final game of the season with eight points.
By the time Rarrick earned her first basket, the Firebirds were down, 31-21. Three straight buckets by Rarrick got Chaparral to within 33-27 at the three-minute mark of the third quarter.
Sanchez said the Firebirds knew some kind of defense like that was coming and had game-planned for that. Chaparral (20-10) did get quality shots, but couldn't convert.
Point guard Alexandra Gilligan had 14 points and Jenna Savaya had 10 to lead the Firebirds.
By the end of the quarter Pinnacle had stretched its lead to 44-22. The Pioneers then scored the first six points of the fourth to take a commanding 50-32 lead.
“I didn’t have enough time outs,” Sanchez said. “We tried to slow them down and get back into our rhythm.”