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Finishing strong

Canyon wins last game of its Classic, picks up sixth straight win

Posted: December 12, 2009 10:34 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Canyon forward Brian Nnaoji (20) takes a shot against Paraclete's Marcus Davis, left, and Gerard Rivers (24) at the Canyon High Classic on Saturday at Canyon High School. The Cowboys beat the Eagles by the score 68-57.

As Canyon forward Wesley Bartole threw down a thunderous fast-break dunk to put his team up by 18 early in the fourth quarter, Paraclete appeared deflated.

A statement was made.

Nobody was touching the Cowboys at this year’s Canyon Classic.

Canyon picked up its sixth straight win on Saturday, a 68-57 victory over Paraclete at Canyon High that the Cowboys controlled for most of the night.

The dribble penetration of senior Tere Adams and outside shooting of sophomore Coley Apsey left the Spirits frustrated. A series of athletic drives and shots by Brian Nnaoji left Paraclete (7-2) with no answer.

Even when the shots weren’t falling for Canyon (8-2), it was dominating the boards with the post play of seniors Nnaoji and Bartole and junior Kevin Wallace.

“Their guards are very athletic, and they’ve got a lot of good players that know their roles on the team,” said Paraclete head coach Bernard Nichter. “Physically, they did what they wanted to the whole game and we couldn’t match it.”

Solid rebounding and stingy defense kept the Cowboys’ record perfect for the third time in the 10th annual Canyon Classic, and it capped off a fourth win in four days.

“You have to credit Wesley Bartole and Brian Nnaoji and a bunch of our seniors for leading the way,” said Canyon head coach Chad Phillips. “(Their play) was huge for us. We knew we had the size and we wanted to get a lot of points in transition.”

Bartole led the team with 20, Nnaoji scored 17 and Apsay added 10 to lead the Cowboys. Both Nnaoji and Bartole grabbed nine rebounds on the night, and Canyon used a 10-2 run in the third quarter to get separation from the Spirits.

But Paraclete’s Wesley McCurtis gave the Cowboys all the fight he could muster. The small guard scored from all over, leading his team with 25.

With four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the 5-foot-8-inch guard helped cut his team’s deficit to single digits with an impressive four-point play after he was fouled on a long three pointer.

But four straight free throws from Bartole put the Cowboys up 13 with less than a minute to go.

There was no championship game for the Canyon Classic this year, due to a blackout late Friday night in Canyon’s gym during the Valencia-Paraclete game.

Canyon was scheduled to play the winner of Friday’s Paraclete-Valencia matchup for the championship of the Canyon Classic.

But at 11:30 p.m., the lights went out with Valencia ahead 36-29.

After a discussion with the coaches, Phillips decided to take the trophy out of the equation in the interest of fairness. The Vikings lost to Lancaster 61-58 in the game before Canyon’s on Saturday.


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