Any coach would be pleased to see his defense hold Tolleson and its versatile frontline duo to 48 points.
So why is Sunrise Mountain coach Jason Pasinski not smiling? Because his Mustangs were every bit as bad on offense as they were stingy on defense.
Sunrise Mountain (7-6) dug itself two major holes — with only five points in the first quarter and no points in the first five minutes of the third quarter. The droughts resulted in a 48-38 loss to Tolleson (8-3) in the semifinal of the Northwest Holiday Tournament Wednesday.
"When you hold teams under 50, you win a lot of games if you have the offensive effort to match that," Pasinski said. "It was a lack of value on offense, careless passing. We miss a lot of bunnies. You can't win when you're up and down like a dolphin."
Defense got the Mustangs back into it in the second quarter after the Wolverines nearly ran them out of the gym, building a 17-5 lead. Forward Stacy Davis had 12 points in the first quarter, canning two three-point shots, posting up at will and cleaning the glass.
The 6-7 junior appeared on his way to his season average of 25 points by halftime, but Sunrise Mountain adjusted its half-court alignment and went on a late run to cut the lead to three by halftime.
"The zone slowed (Davis) down a little bit and got us into a rhythm," Pasinski said. "But then in the third quarter we forgot what had worked for us in the zone and came out real flat."
After the break, the Mustangs zoned out on offense again, throwing the ball away and missing several layups. By the time senior forward Brandon Kocmoud scored with 2:48 left in the third, Sunrise Mountain trailed by 13.
The Mustangs could not get closer than seven the rest of the way, thanks mostly to Tolleson's other multi-dimensional forward, senior Brendon Pineda.
After Davis controlled the first half with 14 of his 16 points, Pineda took over the second half, scoring 11 of his game high 17 and grabbing six of his nine rebounds.
Kocmoud and fellow senior Steven Kane scored 10 points each to lead Sunrise Mountain.
For the Mustangs, Wednesday's missed opportunities were part of a frustrating pattern. Tolleson, like Kellis, Peoria, Thunderbird and Mesquite before it, became another good team that the Mustangs played close but couldn't finish against.
"The moral victories can only take you so far. We've got to be able to break through against a top caliber team," Pasinski said. "We're 0-6 against against those top tier teams. We hang around, but we're not able to put four quarters together."
Thursday, Sunrise Mountain gets another shot at region rival Kellis in the third-place game at 6 p.m. in Greenway's gym, 3930 W. Greenway Road, Phoenix.