West Ranch boys hoops escapes Canyon

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Suren Aghazadian didn’t know what to expect in the second half Friday, especially after playing limited minutes in the first half for West Ranch following two early fouls.

Unfortunately for Canyon, it didn’t either.

The Cowboys had difficulty containing Aghazadian inside after halftime, with the senior forward accumulating a double-double in the final 16 minutes to lead visiting West Ranch to a 59-52 Foothill League boys basketball victory, its first at Canyon since 2014.

West Ranch (10-9 overall, 2-2 in Foothill) rebounded from losing its first two league games to defeat Hart (2-2 Foothill) and Canyon (5-15, 0-4), moving within one game of Golden Valley (3-1 Foothill) and Valencia (3-1 Foothill).

“We knew going in that Canyon was going to go all out because they were playing at home and they were 0-3,” said Aghazadian, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

“In the first half, we had this mentality that this would be an easy win, but at halftime we regrouped and made it a point in the second half to pound it inside. That gave me more confidence down low.”

Aghazadian had only four points and one rebound in the first quarter, with the perimeter shooting of Chris Kodama helping the Wildcats remain tied at 23 at halftime.

With more offensive balance in the second half, West Ranch grabbed the advantage with five minutes left in the third quarter and never relinquished control after the teams had seven ties and 10 lead changes in the first 19 minutes.

“Without Suren, we were missing rebounds and points in the paint in the first half,” said Kodama, who scored 16 points.

“When we got it in to Suren in the second half, everyone would collapse on him and that led to open shooters and back cuts and it opened up the court for everyone.”

Canyon cut the deficit to 50-46 with 3:23 left following a dunk by Yvan Yomba, but West Ranch scored nine of the next 12 points and the Cowboys missed seven fourth-quarter free throws to open league with four consecutive losses for the first time since 1997.

“You have to take advantage of those opportunities,” said Canyon coach Alex Dunwoody. “I’m glad we got to the line so many times in the fourth quarter, but we have to make shots. We turned the ball over a lot, and we missed some easy chances and all those things add up in games like these.”

Yomba had 16 points and 10 rebounds, with Camden Apsay contributing 13 points for Canyon, which lost its ninth straight. Austin Galuppo added six points and seven rebounds for West Ranch, whose four league games have been decided by a combined 15 points.

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