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Canyon holds off surprise charge

Cowboys rally late to beat Indians

Posted: January 15, 2010 10:23 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

Canyon was already involved with one Foothill League boys basketball surprise this week.

Now make that two.

Following up an upset of the defending Foothill champions Golden Valley, the Cowboys were tied late in the fourth quarter with a 5-13 Hart team that looked nothing like what its record indicated.

Yet the Cowboys pulled away late, thanks to the performance of senior center Brian Nnaoji, in a 63-53 Canyon victory.

Nnaoji scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, nine offensive, and helped give Canyon a late cushion that eventually led to the victory.

“I guess we might have underestimated (Hart),” Nnaoji said. “At least we know now Hart’s a really good team.”

The Indians (5-14, 0-2) trailed 16-5 after a quarter, then cut the lead to 29-22 at halftime.

In the third quarter they chipped away with the aid of two 3-pointers from Austin Maly and the steady play of guard Roman Delgado, who finished with a team-high of 16 points.

Playing even through the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, Canyon (13-5, 2-0) flexed more muscle.

“It’s not a secret, make free throws and block out,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly of the difference late. “They were just stronger than us.”

With 2:20 left in the game, Canyon’s Paul Nnaoji hit a 3-pointer, giving the Cowboys a 50-47 lead.

His brother, Brian, followed up a Hart turnover by driving to the basket for a layup and picking up a foul.

He made the free throw, giving Canyon a 53-47 lead.

The Cowboys never looked back.

It was a much different victory for the Cowboys than their 77-70 win over Golden Valley Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, Canyon’s perimeter game helped give the team a boost and the Cowboys had four players score in double figures.

On Friday, Canyon was just 4-of-20 from beyond the 3-point line and Coley Apsay was the only other Cowboy in double figures with 11 points, nine of which came in the first quarter.

“We’re a resilient bunch,” said Canyon head coach Chad Phillips. “This has been a tiring week. This was one of those letdown games. I had to remind them of the Hart-Canyon rivalry.”

Which means always close games, despite which team is up or down.

Hart didn’t look down Friday.

The scoring load was spread among four players — Delgado’s 16 points, Maly’s 13, Kevin Lamb’s 12 and Cole Preston’s 11.

But Brian Nnaoji couldn’t be contained late.

He scored 13 of his 18 in the fourth quarter, drilling all five of his free throws.

“He’s absolutely wonderful for us,” Phillips said.

 

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