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Canyon girls basketball: Not since '73

Cowboys win first Foothill League girls basketball championship since 1973

Posted: February 11, 2010 10:30 p.m.
Updated: February 12, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Canyon girls basketball players celebrate their 56-44 victory over West Ranch on Thursday night at West Ranch. The Cowboys won their first Foothill League girls basketball championship since 1973.

The senior classes for West Ranch and Canyon have seen their share of turmoil.

Yet past coaching changes, player controversies and years of also-ran status in the league-title race were long forgotten Thursday.

Both teams made it to West Ranch with a chance to win the girls basketball title outright.

But it was the Cowboys’ turn, as hot shooting and intense pressure earned Canyon its first girls basketball title since 1973 with a 56-44 win at West Ranch.

“We were very aware,” Canyon guard Brooke LeMar said, of her school’s nearly four-decade title drought. “We’re just glad we’re able to finally change that.”

Momentum shifted back and forth early, before Canyon (19-6, 9-1) was able to get hot from outside and take a 17-13 lead into the
second quarter.

West Ranch’s offensive bellwether and leading scorer, Erin Ruiz, struggled early and went 1-of-6 in the first quarter.

But the Wildcats (16-9, 8-2) kept at it with aggression and Canyon hurt itself with turnovers, committing 13 in the first half alone, which allowed West Ranch right back into it.

Canyon’s 12th turnover of the half led to a timeout by head coach Chuck Johns with four minutes left and the scored tied at 19-19.

Then the Cowboys found their rhythm.

The Cowboys went on an 8-0 run thanks to big buckets from Kayla Michel, Adriana Dent and Alexus Bryant, before West Ranch head coach Randy Smith called a timeout of his own with his team trailing 27-19 with two minutes left in the first half.

“I think we had to turn it into a faster pace of game than we had last time,” John said. “Our goal all along was to get better with each game. And I think we’re playing our best basketball right now, which is what you need to do.”

The Cowboys earned a 49-45 win the last time the teams met on Jan. 26.

Dent forced two more steals, one of which she took the length of the floor for a layup.

On the other, she found Bryant for a 3-pointer, and Canyon led 32-19 with 1:40 left in the half.

Dent was a force all over the court for the Cowboys, finishing with 11 points. 13 rebounds, six steals and two blocks. Amber Evans led the team in scoring with 13 points, while Bryant added 12 points.

LeMar helped set up several of her teammates during the run, finishing with 12 points, seven assists and five steals.

West Ranch continued to struggle on offense due to Canyon’s stifling fullcourt pressure.

Ruiz led a charge in the third quarter, as the Wildcats made a run that closed the gap to 37-31 with three and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

“We just didn’t have anybody that could finish today but (Ruiz),” Smith said. “And that hasn’t been the case for us all year, but we just didn’t finish very well tonight.”

When the shots stopped falling for West Ranch, Canyon’s continued dominance on the boards was too much for the Wildcats.

Canyon made another 8-0 run forcing turnovers before West Ranch could move the ball past midcourt, and the Cowboys led 47-31 with a minute left in the third.

Smith needed another timeout.

But at that point, it was too late.

Ruiz didn’t have enough help on offense, and she ended up with all but one of her team’s points in the final frame. She finished with 24, including 12 in the fourth quarter, on 8-of-22 shooting.

As the Wildcats picked up their eighth team foul with four minutes left, there didn’t seem to be enough time left for West Ranch.



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