FEDERAL HEIGHTS - In a tiny gym just east of I-25 and right off of 84th plays one of the hottest and most entertaining teams in Colorado. The …
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FEDERAL HEIGHTS - In a tiny gym just east of I-25 and right off of 84th plays one of the hottest and most entertaining teams in Colorado.
The Pinnacle Timberwolves have been dominating their opponents, winning their seventh consecutive game Tuesday by cruising past the Arrupe Jesuit Generals 68-36.
“I can’t take credit for it; it is all these kids,” Pinnacle’s coach Lou Vullo said. “I’m proud of them. We had a really tough non-conference schedule and they have bought into our system. More than anything we are taking it one game at a time and are staying focused.”
The Timberwolves started the season by losing their first five games, all non-league games.
Of course their opponents were among some of the best in the state, including undefeated and top-ranked Kent Denver and always tough Faith Christian. They also suffered a six-point defeat to Bishop Machebeuf and a five-point loss to Denver Christian.
Their only real blemish on their schedule was a 60-48 loss to Valley at the beginning of December. Since then, the T-Wolves have been playing like a squad on a mission.
“We had a tough early schedule, but we are playing with more confidence right now,” Pinnacle’s junior guard Chase Gonzales said.
Since starting their league schedule on Jan. 8, the Timberwolves have outscored their opponents by an average of 13.7 points and are on top of the Frontier League with a 7-0 record. Much of the success has been its ability to get out on the fast break.
In Tuesday’s win against the Generals, Pinnacle forced 13 turnovers in the opening quarter and scored the game’s first 18 points - most coming on fast breaks.
Gonzales was the biggest benefactor, getting out on the break and scoring 19 points in the first quarter for the Timberwolves. He drilled two treys at the end of the quarter to give Pinnacle a 22-point advantage after the opening quarter.
“That’s our game plan,” Gonzales said. “We want to get as many transition points as we can.”
While Pinnacle hasn’t been a slouch on offense, shooting at least 49 percent from the field over the previous three games, it’s the Timberwolves defense that has been impressive. They have held three of their previous four opponents under 40 points. In Tuesday’s win, they didn’t allow Arrupe Jesuit a field goal until 45 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We knew Arrupe Jesuit likes to stall and so we wanted to be aggressive with them,” Vullo said.
What makes the Timberwolves more impressive is that one of their top weapons was held in check Tuesday.
Six-foot-4 Chase Phillips scored only three points in the game, two of which came on a thunderous dunk to start the second quarter. However, Gonzales and junior Sansom Ouk picked up the slack; each drilled three treys on Tuesday. Ouk and senior Orlando Perches each had 13 points in the win.
Phillips was more dominant on Jan. 25 against rival Academy when he made 14 of 15 shots for 28 points. He also had 10 rebounds and is averaging 9.8 boards this season.
The Timberwolves schedule down the stretch will prove challenging, including games against Frontier League champions Clear Creek and perennial powerhouse Holy Family. But Pinnacle is concentrating on staying on top of the league.
“These league wins are big for us,” Gonzales said. “Our non-league scheduled helped us prepare, because we want to win the league.”
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