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Prep boys basketball: ’Cats finish off Canyon

West Ranch boys prove to be clutch in crunch time

Posted: January 21, 2011 10:29 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2011 4:55 a.m.
 

All it took was one missed free throw.

That was the difference in a game where Canyon boys basketball led by as many as 16 points.

West Ranch came all the way back to shock the Cowboys 60-59 Friday night at West Ranch High School.

With 38 seconds left, Canyon forward Clay Kasdorf missed the back end of a one-and-one after going a perfect 8-for-8 from the line up to that point.

Canyon led 59-58.

Wildcats forward Ako Kaluna secured the rebound off the miss and was fouled trying to break free of the cluster of players.

He found himself at the line for a one-and-one opportunity at the 0:28 mark.

Kaluna hit them both, and Canyon couldn't answer on the ensuing possession.

"I was nervous, scared ... ‘I've got to make these. I can't miss them,'" Kaluna recalled thinking before sinking the game-winners. He scored 21 total points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

In four Foothill League games, the Wildcats (14-6, 2-2) have played four games decided by six points or less, but they've won the last two.

"We were a lot more poised tonight than we were in both the Valencia and Hart games (last week)," said West Ranch head coach Sean Legaux, referring to his team's 59-57 loss to Valencia and 60-58 loss to Hart.

This time, West Ranch had to fight back from Canyon's blazing start. The Cowboys led 21-5 early in the second quarter.

Darnel Haggerty spearheaded the run for Canyon (14-5, 2-2), making three straight 3-pointers to add to teammate Coley Apsay's three to start the game.

The Cowboys turned the early 12-0 advantage into a steady double-digit lead until well into the second quarter.

"We've got to stop spotting teams 12 points," Legaux said.

Apsay scored a game-high 22 points and Haggerty followed with 21, 16 of which came before halftime.

In response to the barrage of 3-pointers, West Ranch switched from zone to man-to-man defense, and that's when Canyon's lead began to dwindle.

"They out-hustled us, out-played us and out-executed us," Kasdorf said of the comeback.

Offensively, West Ranch guards started driving the lane, forcing the Cowboys's defense to come off Kaluna.

By halftime, the Wildcats were down just 33-26.

"I don't think we became complacent," Haggerty said. "They did a good job and we just stopped running our offense."

But Canyon did find ways to get to the line, particularly in the fourth quarter.

For a moment, it looked like the Cowboys were going to escape with the win after all, but West Ranch guard Justin Ballenger hit his own trio of three's in the final frame.

"We know who to get the ball to when we're down, and we know what to do when we are ahead," Kaluna said.

Ballenger had 18 points.

It gave the Wildcats a 52-50 lead at the 6:10 mark, and from there, it became mostly a free-throw competition.

This time, West Ranch was one better.

"We'll learn to finish," Kasdorf said. "We have to."

 

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