Canyon High had already defeated Golden Valley once this season and had five opportunities in the fourth quarter to take the lead against the host Grizzlies in their Foothill League boys basketball opener.
But Milan Taylor was determined to put the past, and Golden Valley’s recent stretch of five losses in six games, behind him and made sure
Canyon wouldn’t emerge victorious again Tuesday.
After missing the Grizzlies’ past three games, Taylor returned to contribute 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a 51-48 victory, the second year in a row Golden Valley outlasted Canyon in the league opener.
“This feels amazing. This is why we worked so hard during the offseason and that hard work is starting to show now,” said Taylor, who made two free throws to give Golden Valley a 47-45 lead with 3:15 left.
“We already lost to Canyon and we didn’t want to lose to them again. I just kept telling my teammates, ‘Keep your head straight and keep your head up.’ I’m proud of how we finished together.”
Taylor was one of three athletes to walk off the Golden Valley bench during a 48-40 loss Dec. 30 to Eastside at the Hart tournament. In a statement released Monday by school officials, Taylor was reinstated to the team and started Tuesday.
Richard Kawakami and Josh Jehnings provided more than enough support for Taylor, helping Golden Valley (7-9 overall, 1-0 in Foothill) atone for a 57-42 setback Dec. 29 to Canyon (5-11) at the Hart tournament.
Jehnings had 14 points and three blocks, with Kawakami adding 21 points and 12 rebounds, sealing the victory with two free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining.
“Rich is one of the most clutch players I’ve ever played with,” Taylor said. “I’m glad he stepped up and got the job done.”
Josue Valencia had 14 points for Canyon, 11 coming in the second half, but he missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left. Cowboy Yvan Yomba added nine points and eight rebounds.
“Josue is a skilled player and he had an open shot, so we’ll take that,” said Canyon coach Alex Dunwoody. “Chasing the whole way is tough, especially on the road, but the kids never quit. The bottom line is when we have the opportunities, we have to take advantage.”