Pinnacle boys basketball routs Horizon in regular season finale

In what turned out to be a reboot of its previous meeting, Pinnacle High School boys basketball overwhelmed rival Horizon High School on the road 96-54 in a wire-to-wire win Tuesday, Feb. 6.

In its Dec. 12, 2017, meeting, Pinnacle held Horizon to a season-low in points en route to a 93-47 victory. Heading into the season finale, Horizon was 8-2 over its previous 10 games, but couldn’t keep up with Pinnacle and its star guards.

Pinnacle High School point guard Nico Mannion grabs a piece of gum prior to his team’s win against Horizon High School. (Special to the Independent/Ben Leibowitz)

From the opening tip, Pinnacle embraced a fast pace that Horizon usually sets. Pinnacle stormed out to an early 24-3 lead and never looked back. In the first quarter alone, guards Spencer Rattler and Nico Mannion scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

“We weren’t really running plays,” Rattler said. “We were just out having fun. We were just hooping.”

Rattler finished with a game-high 23 points, including a breakaway tomahawk dunk following a steal that acted as an early exclamation point in the victory.

“Once I stole it I knew I was going to punch it,” Rattler said of his slam. “Those feel good all the time.”

Mannion, a sophomore and ESPN’s No. 20 recruit in the country among the 2020 class, finished with 19 points and helped set the pace by attacking the basket.

Pinnacle head coach Charles Wilde said Mannion really thrives while playing an up-tempo pace, even though he’s just as comfortable playing when the game slows down.

“He’s such an intelligent basketball player,” Coach Wilde said after the game. “He sees the floor really well.”

Prior to his second matchup against Horizon this season, Mannion said the key to another win would be the team’s defense.

“When we play defense we’re better on offense, too, because we get better shots, we run more,” Mannion said. “If we just focus on defense everything else will come.”

Pinnacle’s swarming defense was indeed the catalyst. Horizon couldn’t get many clean looks from 3-point range, and Pinnacle capitalized by collecting rebounds and starting the fast break.

Pinnacle held a 59-26 lead entering halftime and made sure Horizon couldn’t chip away at that lead in the second half. Even with Rattler and Mannion on the bench late in the game, Pinnacle maintained the pressure with junior Trent Brown handling the ball.

With the win, Pinnacle finished its season 19-7 overall with a 10-0 record in the Desert Valley Region. Horizon, meanwhile, finished its season at 17-8 with a 7-3 mark against Desert Valley opponents.

Still, both teams automatically qualified for the 6A playoffs, which begin Tuesday, Feb. 13. Play-in games begin Friday, Feb. 9.

Editor’s Note: Ben Leibowitz is a student-journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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