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Prep boys hoops: Cowboys end Indians’ title run

Canyon erases 17-point deficit to cost Indians title

Posted: February 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Canyon forward Park Mackenzie sets up a 3-pointer as Hart's Andrew MacArthur quickly closes in to defend in the fourth quarter on Friday night at Hart High.

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After enduring a painful first half of Foothill League play, Canyon Cowboys boys basketball continued to preach the importance of getting better each game.

The Cowboys saved their best performance of league play for last, storming back from a deficit as big as 17 points to beat the Hart Indians 62-61 on Friday night at Hart High School.

As a result, Hart was denied a chance at splitting a Foothill championship with West Ranch, which would have given the Indians their first league title since 2007.

“This is the hardest we’ve ever had to work,” said Canyon sophomore Ben Taufahema. “We wanted it more and we had to go out and take it.”

Hart sprinted in front early and led nearly the entire game until the 2:41 mark of the fourth quarter when Park Mackenzie knocked down three free throws to give Canyon a 56-53 lead.

It was one of 26 made free throws for the Cowboys (14-12, 4-6), who at one point made 11-of-13 foul shots in the fourth quarter.

Taufahema was instrumental in driving to the basket and forcing contact to get to the free-throw line down the stretch. He led all players with 22 points, 13 of which came from the charity stripe.

He also made a key layup to give Canyon a five-point lead with 2:04 to play.

The Cowboys pressured the ball most of the game and they forced Hart turnovers in the biggest moments down the stretch. Though Hart’s Lewis Stallworth made a nearly half-court 3-pointer with 1 second to play to cut the lead to one, Canyon made enough plays and enough shots to hold off any last-second miracles.

“The guys are starting to understand what we want from them and understand the pressures of the Foothill League,” said Canyon head coach Sean DeLong.

Early on, it was Hart (24-2 overall, 8-2 Foothill League) that was benefitting from pressure defense and forced turnovers.

Thanks to a number of fastbreak points off nine first-half turnovers by Canyon, Hart jumped out to a 27-10 lead early in the second quarter.

The Cowboys answered quickly and scored the next 10 points in the game, but the Indians still led 34-24 at halftime.

“We summed it up. No passion and no sense of urgency,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly.

Stallworth led Hart with 15 points, while fellow guard Myles Franklin had defenders all over him and was limited to just seven.

Canyon continued to bleed away Hart’s lead in the third quarter by getting MacKenzie and teammate Dean Hendrix-Davis looks in front of the basket.

Hendrix-Davis scored 15 points and MacKenzie added 12, including four key free throws in the final minutes of the game.

At one point in the fourth quarter, Hart went nearly four minutes without a basket.

“We gave away a league title because we didn’t come to play hard,” Kelly said.

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