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Prep basketball: Canyon holds its end

Cowboys squeak by and now get Saugus in title game

Posted: December 8, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 8, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Canyon's Steven Brotz (33) and Grant's Otavi Johnson go for a rebound in the first half of the game during the Canyon Classic semifinal at Canyon High School Friday.

It was clear from the beginning that very little about Canyon’s semifinal matchup with Grant in the Canyon Classic on Friday night would go smoothly.

The Cowboys opened the game with two free throws after Grant was assessed a pregame technical foul for dunking, and survived a physical, turnover-filled battle, 53-50, at Canyon High School.

To start the third quarter, Canyon (4-1) turned the ball over on five of its first six possessions as it struggled to dribble through Grant’s pressure defense throughout the night.

“It was a physical game,” said Canyon first-year head coach Sean DeLong. “They can get sloppy, but good teams have to find a way to win.”

That’s just what Canyon did on Friday.

The Cowboys fell behind early in the game, unable to move the ball inside with the potency they had earlier in the tournament and settling for more mid-range and perimeter shots.

Forward Dean Hendrix-Davis, Canyon’s best post threat, fell into foul trouble early in the first quarter and was forced to sit for much of the opening frame.

“Dean’s a great player and not having him on the floor hurt,” DeLong said. “But we have other guys on the floor.”

One of those guys was Marc Cabrera, who pulled Canyon into a 23-23 tie after making a steal at halfcourt and scoring on a breakaway layup.

It was the first time Canyon hadn’t trailed since leading 4-3 early in the game.

“Defense leads to our offense. We forget that sometimes, but that’s what we feed off,” DeLong said. “Cabrera’s finding out how good he can be.”

Cabrera finished the game with a team-high 16 points, including seven in the final frame. Hendrix-Davis scored seven points and pulled down four rebounds and Ben Taufahema scored 10 points.

Cabrera had another momentum changing play to end the third, hitting a 3-point shot at the third-quarter buzzer to give Canyon a 43-38 lead entering the fourth.

Grant’s offense struggled to find its rhythm for much of the contest, as well. The Lancers committed 13 turnovers in the game, with Canyon turning the ball over 21 times.

Fittingly, Grant (4-1) had the ball with 36.6 seconds left and down three, but the Lancers’ Sherman Cromartie threw the ball out of bounds after a miscommunication with a teammate to end his team’s last real chance to force overtime.

Grant got the ball back with 2.8 seconds left, but its desperation half-court shot landed well short of the basket.

Sergey Khachatryan led the Lancers with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Kalib Wilks, whose dunk led to the pregame technical foul, had a game-high 10 rebounds.

The victory puts Canyon in the championship game of its own Canyon Classic where it will meet Foothill League foe Saugus at 6:30 p.m. tonight.


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