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Pinnacle High boys take second at state tournament: Team improves on last year's third place finish with hard fought victories

The Pinnacle High School Panthers prepare to "D-up" at state tournament against Rockwell High School.
Carl Willson shoots for two of his 14 points in game against Telos.

The Pinnacle High boys basketball team went into the state tournament after winning the Utah School Sports Alliance regular season title 12-2, and sitting pretty as the #1 seed. The team played with valor and came away with second place at the USSA's second state tournament.

Their number one seed gave them a bye in the first round, and in their only game on Friday, the boys took on Maeser Preparatory Academy.

Team Captain, Stewy Jones led the team in their 70-30 domination of Maeser, scoring 28 points. The win moved the team into the winner's bracket until 11:30 a.m. on Saturday when PHS lost to second seeded Rockwell High School in a close 66-71 game. Stewy Jones scored 29 for the team with Blake Najera putting up 21.

The boys moved to the third place game, where they beat Telos High School 71-50. Blake Najera scored 27 points, with Carl Willson dropping 14. This win moved them into the championship game where they would again face Rockwell.

"The boys went into the game determined to win and force a third game between the teams to determine the state champion," said Pinnacle Business Manager Paula Wells. Our kids were cheered on by not only their school, family and friends, but also by their previous opponent."

Blake Najera and Stewy Jones led the team to an impressive victory over Rockwell 81-73 to advance to the finals.

"The air in the Rockwell Gymnasium was tense as the final game of the two day tournament began," explained Wells.

Rockwell took an early lead, but didn't hold onto it for long. The two teams took turns holding the lead throughout the first two quarters, but by half-time, Rockwell had taken a lead that the Panthers could not overcome.

Near the end of the fourth quarter, Coach Jeff Bowen put in senior players, Bryce Damron, Derek Wells, Stewy Jones, Carson Franklin, along with junior, Austin Welch. Bowen, ended the quarter with his youngest players, Jake Hardy, Freston Smith, Barry Hamilton, Jullinn Garcia and Manuel Mitcheson, allowing everyone a chance to play in a championship game. In the end PHS lost 42-73 to Rockwell.

Both Stewy Jones and Blake Najera played big parts in the team's accomplishments, according to Pinnacle officials; Jones averaged 26 points per game, with Najera scoring an average of 23 per contest. This was the team's second state tournament. Last year the team took third place.

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