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Prep basketball: Cowboys earn their spot in final

Cowboys have to come back to defeat Kennedy in semis

Posted: December 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Canyon’s Alek Golden, front, chases down a loose ball as Kennedy’s Isaiah Foster follows on Friday at Canyon High.

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It was a situation where everything that could have gone wrong for Canyon boys basketball did for most of the first half.
It was also the type of game where Canyon proved it can overcome even the worst of scenarios.

The Cowboys came back from a 14-point, first-half deficit to beat Kennedy High of Granada Hills 58-43 in the semifinals of the Canyon Classic on Friday night at Canyon High School.

“We came out sluggish and we realized when we settle down and get into a rhythm, that’s when we get going,” said Cowboys point guard Coley Apsay who led all scorers with 24 points.

Canyon earns a matchup with Crespi in today’s championship game at 6:30 p.m.

For most of the first half, the Cowboys (7-0) struggled to break Kennedy’s pressure defense and couldn’t keep up with the Golden Cougars’ red hot shooting.

A 58 percent performance from the field in the first half helped the Cougars build a 31-17 lead by the 2:35 mark in the second quarter.

But Canyon managed to crawl back into the game by getting to the free throw line and forcing Kennedy (2-1) out of system.

By halftime, the lead was reduced to 31-28 and the momentum had clearly shifted to the Cowboys.

“I didn’t think we had it (at halftime),” said Canyon head coach Chad Phillips. “Thank goodness we got back into the game. I knew they were a well-coached team so it was good that we were within striking distance.”

It wasn’t until the 1:53 mark of the third quarter when Elijah Veluzat came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer that Canyon took its first lead since 9-8 in the opening frame.

Canyon led 50-49 at that point.

He finished with five points, all coming in the second half.

As the game wore on, the Cougars wore down defensively, and that led to several trips to the charity stripe for Canyon.
Cowboys forward Clay Kasdorf was the team’s second leading scorer with 15 points including a 13-of-16 line from the free-throw line.

Dominique Vargas led Kennedy with 18 points and Jordan Taylor followed with 14 points, but they all came before halftime.

Taylor was the one who led the Cougars’ charge by sinking each of his first four 3-point attempts.

Kennedy’s hot shooting cooled down to 36 percent for the game.

Canyon’s defense forced 20 Kennedy turnovers in the game, which helped build the lead from 42-38 headed into the fourth quarter to a double-digit mark by the end.

“We just know to play as a team,” Apsay said. “We know if we do that, we’ll eventually make some buckets. I don’t care how many shots I’m making.”

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