For the second straight year, the sixth-seeded Gilbert boys basketball team found itself matched up against No. 3 Pinnacle in the Division I quarterfinals.
And for the second straight year, the Tigers came up short, falling to the Pioneers, 69-57, Thursday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
Pinnacle will meet Dobson for a third time this season in the early Division I semifinals Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We didn’t play well early,” said Gilbert coach Jay Caserio. “There were some baskets around the hoop that we didn’t put in and we missed a lot of free throws.”
The game started with a back-and-forth opening quarter as both teams struggled from the field. Gilbert (21-7) used the big bodies of Truman Moore and Spencer Nicolds to grab an early 8-2 lead. Pinnacle came back to take a 12-10 lead after the first eight minutes.
The teams traded baskets in the second quarter and the Pioneers took a narrow, 29-26 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, Pinnacle guard Dorian Pickens took over.
The Stanford-commit scored 14 of his game-high 36 points in the third quarter, and the Pioneers outscored Gilbert 27-16 in the third, breaking the game open.
“We had some uncharacteristic plays,” Caserio said of the third quarter. “We had some turnovers and some bad decisions. Pickens hit some shots and I think the guys panicked a bit.”
Gilbert tried to close the distance in the final quarter, but never got within eight points. The Tigers were led by Nicolds, who scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds. Moore scored 10 points and recorded six rebounds, but the Tigers were 7 of 16 from the free-throw line for the game.
No. 3 Pinnacle 69, No. 6 Gilbert 57
Pinnacle 12 17 27 13 -- 69
Gilbert 10 16 16 15 -- 57
Pinnacle: Pickens, 36, Ingram, 13, Baker, 7, Donovan, 5, Griffin, 2, Kenny 3, Wahlberg, 3
Gilbert: Nicolds, 19, Mosley 12, Lowell, 2, Bryant 10, Moore, 10, Agostino, 2, Spires, 2