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Prep girls hoops: Canyon girls put defense first

A Canyon staple leads the Cowboys to 2-0 start in Foothill League

Posted: January 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Alia McCoy (23) shoots over West Ranch defender Hannah Green (25) at Canyon High School on Friday.

 

West Ranch power forward Hannah Green single-handedly makes the Wildcats a defensive team and Canyon girls basketball knew she was coming.

The Cowboys knew they had to beat her and the Wildcats to the defensive punch.

Canyon did that Friday in a 57-38 victory at Canyon High.

Cowboys senior Alia McCoy set the tone.

McCoy had five of her game-high seven steals in the first quarter, and she led all scorers with 17 points.

It helped that she was successful in getting Green, the Foothill League’s premier shot blocker, in foul trouble early.

“We talked about Hannah and how many blocked shots she had last time we played her. Coach (Chuck Johns) said shot fake everything,” McCoy said.

Canyon (14-3 overall, 2-0 in the Foothill League) zoomed out to a 16-5 lead after one quarter and just had to hang onto the lead from there.

Green drew her second foul with 3:45 to play in the first quarter and had to exit.

West Ranch’s top scoring option Whitney Branham couldn’t get going offensively early because Canyon was able to extend its zone defense out on the perimeter with Green out, which closed off the junior guard’s scoring opportunities.

Branham didn’t score in the first quarter.

“The biggest problem is we played scared,” said West Ranch head coach Randy Smith. “I think that we played tentative.”

Yet West Ranch (9-7, 1-1) fought back in the second quarter, led by senior center Melanie Jensen, who found some space in the post to operate.

She scored six of her 11 points in the second quarter.

West Ranch was still in the neighborhood in the third quarter, down 41-29 in the final seconds of the third period, but Canyon’s Marissa Schwimmer stopped the Wildcats’ momentum cold with a steal at midcourt.

She then launched a half-court shot at the buzzer that went in for a 44-29 lead.

“That was unbelievable. Why did we throw that pass?” Smith lamented of the play that led to the 3-pointer.

Canyon hit three more threes in the fourth quarter to get out with a comfortable victory.

Canyon junior guard Kali Vittallo made four shots from beyond the arc in the game and scored 15 points.

Branham scored 15 points for West Ranch.

The Cowboys host Valencia on Tuesday in what is supposed to be the marquee matchup in the Foothill this season.

“I’m excited. We’re excited to play them,” McCoy said. “We haven’t talked about them at all. But (Saturday) in practice, it’s Valencia we’re preparing for.”

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