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Canyon basketball streaks into semifinals

Posted: February 28, 2014 11:14 p.m.
Updated: February 28, 2014 11:14 p.m.

Canyon's Marc Cabrera, left, drives the ball down the court while Elsinore defender Tommy Wilson trails during Friday's CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA quarterfinal playoff game at Canyon High School.

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On the wettest day Southern California has seen in months, the Canyon High Cowboys stuck with the theme and made it rain from the three-point line in their 84-53 win over visiting Elsinore High in Friday’s quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs.

The win puts Canyon in its first CIF semifinal game since 2002 and its third overall in school history.

“We were due for this,” said Canyon guard Ben Taufahema. “We want this bad. We couldn’t get a league title but we’ll get that CIF title.”

Elsinore (23-7) finished the first quarter with a 15-8 lead after dominating the offensive boards and getting second chance points. But it was Taufahema leading the charge in the second, scoring 11 of his 28 points and cutting the Tigers’ lead to 28-26 going into the half.

At the start of the third quarter, the Cowboys (24-6) rained down a barrage of 3-pointers. They hit seven in the quarter with three coming from senior guard Mark Bell, two from Taufahema and one apiece from Dean Hendrix-Davis and Steven Brotz. The three ball accounted for 21 of Canyon’s 23 points in the quarter.

The downpour got stronger in the fourth with Bell draining two more threes and scoring 14 of his 25 points. Canyon finished the game outscoring the Tigers 35-13 in the final quarter.

“These guys deserve it so much,” said Canyon head coach Sean DeLong. “They work so hard on their shot, specifically Mark Bell. He struggled the last couple of games at home so we just told him tonight, ‘Go out and shoot. This is your home, make them.’ And he did. It was special.”

After Elsinore’s early success against the Cowboys’ zone defense, DeLong changed it up and went to man-to-man, taking away passing lanes that had been there earlier and slowing Elsinore’s offensive flow. Senior forward Reynaldo Solorzano led the Tigers in scoring with 14.

This is the second time Canyon has scored 84 points in the playoffs, the first time coming in their 84-42 win over Loara in the first round of the playoffs. Canyon will face the Canyon High Comanches of Anaheim who, beat Newbury Park 66-49 on Friday night. The semifinal game will be held on Tuesday.

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