WAITING GAME - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

WAITING GAME

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Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 9:25 am | Updated: 12:43 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Alec Pimentel has learned that good things come to those who wait.

The 6-foot-1 point guard endured three years of frustration and failure at Dysart, waiting for things to turn around for the Demons' boys basketball program.

"After my freshman year, my parents thought about switching me to Willow Canyon," said Pimentel, a Surprise resident. "But I told them to let me stick it out and maybe something good will happen."

Waiting for something good to happen at Dysart has been like waiting for the Arizona Cardinals to reach the Super Bowl. A reversal of fortune seemed improbable at best, impossible at worst.

The Demons had won just 21 games overall in Pimentel's first three years, posting records of 9-18, 5-20 and 7-17 in the last three seasons.

Time was running out for Pimentel, who entered his senior season with renewed optimism that things would get better for the Demons.

"I thought we would be a good team this year, but I didn't think we'd have this much success," Pimentel said.

The 18-year-old Pimentel has been the catalyst for the turnaround, leading Dysart to a 14-5 record. That includes the team's current seven-game win streak and a 4-0 league record that has the Demons in first place in the Class 4A-II Skyline Region.

"I saw Alex in the eighth grade and one of the biggest attributes I saw was his court vision," said John Eberlein, Dysart coach. Before his freshman year, Alec was playing a summer-league varsity game.

"He made a three-quarter bounce pass on the money. I told myself this kid has something special."

Pimentel has made numerous special deliveries this season, leading the Demons in scoring (15.4 per game), assists (5.3 per game) and steals (3.4 per game).

Eberlein said an experienced team and some roster additions have helped bring out the best in his point guard.

"His decision-making is better this year," Eberlein said. "Last year, he would force a lot of shots and drive 1-on-2 or 1-on-3 against the defense.

"We have a good rotation of eight or nine players this year and Alec trusts them more."

Pimentel can be a potent weapon in a variety of ways for the Demons.

One example occurred during Dysart's win against Seton Catholic during the Demon Classic tournament in December.

Down by one point with 6 seconds remaining, Pimentel used a screen from teammate Colin Wilkerson to drive the baseline and hit a floater to give Dysart a 49-48 victory.

"Ever since that game, we've been on a tear," said Pimentel.

Eberlein said his favorite Pimentel performance occurred in last week's 87-76 home win against Buckeye. Pimentel finished with 24 points, nine assists and four steals in the victory.

"When you finish a game with 24 points and nine assists, you're really getting involved and getting others involved," Eberlein said of his point guard. "That was a good win because Buckeye is an up-tempo team that guns the ball like crazy."

Pimentel and the Demons have six more regular-season games. Ahead are the state playoffs and a possible first-round home game in the Class 4A-II state tournament.

Pimentel will be a key to the Demons' postseason success, yet his college future may be in football instead of basketball. Numerous colleges, including Northern Arizona, are recruiting the senior wide receiver, who led Dysart with 33 receptions for 716 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

"It would be nice if I could find a place where I could play both sports, but if I had to pick one, I would choose football," Pimentel said.

For now, the senior said he is happy to lead the basketball renaissance at Dysart.

"My teammates and I talk about basketball and how to make our team better even when we're not on the court," Pimentel said in explaining Dysart's success. "Then we transfer that information to the court."

Eberlein has waited as long as Pimentel for fortunes to change at Dysart.

He served as an assistant to Robert Bohon before taking the head coaching reins of the program four years ago.

"I was offered the job in Wickenburg this season and I was close to taking it," said Eberlein, a Wickenburg alum. "I decided to stick around and I'm glad I did."

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