Teamwork Drives Success for Girls Varsity Basketball

Players work together as state championship hopefuls

Marley Tobin

The opposing team arrives. Not one face on the Pinnacle (PHS) Varsity Girls Basketball Team shows any sign of fear. Determination fills the eyes of every player.  As the team warms up, swishes are made. Smiles are shared. They are focused. It’s finally game time.

Going into the season, the team knew a smart strategy for success included preparing for the toughest teams on their roster.

“[The team’s strategy for tough teams is to] play to our strengths and work hard to shut down their best players,” head coach Rick Bunger said. “[Our biggest rivals this year are] Horizon, Chaparral, and Xavier,” shared Coach Bunger, “Horizon is a natural rival because they are an in-district school. Xavier has almost always been on our schedule, and we have developed our rivalry with them based on the strength of each program. Chaparral has been a rivalry because they used to be in our region for years and recently rejoined our region.”

Like the coaches, players on the team also strategize for meeting their most challenging opponents. Starting junior captain, Ally Stedman, also commented, “It’s always fun playing our rivals since we know the other team so well, and this year we beat all three teams.”

Knowing their team strengths and playing to those proved a winning formula for the team this season. The Lady Pioneers went 21-6 for the season and won their second straight Desert Valley Region championship with an undefeated record, 10-0.

Stedman said, “Our quickness and being feisty are our strengths. Quickness and being aggressive helps the team win by setting a tone for the game and since we don’t have much height we have to be quicker and more aggressive than taller teams.”

Even though their strengths dominated, the team recognized their weaknesses and focused on ways to improve in those areas.

“We force things too much. When we get in pressured situations we sometimes get overwhelmed and turn the ball over or make mistakes,” Stedman said. “The team has definitely been improving. We started off the year kind of rough and not making shots and playing very slow, but we’ve picked it up now and we’re making more shots and winning more games,” she said.

“[My goal for myself this season] is to have a better shooting percentage and more assists,” shared Stedman, “[This goal] is important to me because I miss less shots and get my teammates more shots too.” 

The team won their first playoff game Tuesday, February 18th, against Mesa, 61-50.  They won their second playoff game Thursday, February 20th, against Westwood, 56-51. The girls faced off in a semi-final game at home last Wednesday night against Hamilton, losing 70-50. The girls proudly end their season as state semifinalists.