The Canyon High girls basketball team celebrates their win at Saugus on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Canyon High girls basketball gathered for a group photo after their 58-29 win against Saugus High at Saugus on Friday.

“Hold up number one,” said Cowboys coach Jessica Haayer, excitedly, prompting the players to proudly hoist index fingers.

After two years in a Foothill League title drought, Canyon High girls basketball can finally exhale.

“It’s kind of like a breath of fresh air,” Haayer said. “This is my third year on varsity and every year it’s been so close. We knew we had it in us; it was just a matter of time. It feels so good.”

Canyon’s Talia Taufaasau (3) shoots against Saugus defender Carly Roberts (22) at Saugus on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Cowboys (18-9 overall, 9-1 in Foothill) captured the crown, which is shared with Valencia High, after a confident win against the Cents that featured an adaptive defense that was comfortable in both man and zone coverage.

Canyon dominated in their own attacking zone, keeping Saugus from scoring until 1:30 remained in the first quarter when Libbie McMahan landed a 3-pointer.

“We saw that they were pushing us out more, because we could shoot, so we were driving and kicking to our bigs and trusting them to make the shot,” said Canyon’s Daisy Cardenas.

“Defense is going to win us games,” Cardenas said. “So we’re very defensive-minded and we’re just going to try to get stops and then our offense will flow from there.”

Canyon’s Daisy Cardenas (10) shoots as Saugus defender Libbie McMahan (3) looks on at Saugus on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Cents (13-16 overall, 4-6 in Foothill) also struggled from the line, only making seven of 19 free throws.

They had a short offensive burst, however, in the third quarter. Maryrose Elias had 11 points in the third quarter, with her teammates adding seven more points.

Cardenas ended the night with a game-high 15 points. Talia Taufaasau had 14 points and Rachel Bowers added 12.

Bowers played limited minutes in the second half.

Canyon is the first seed in the Division 1AA playoffs, which was decided by a coin flip tie-breaking procedure at a neutral site. Valencia will be the second seed.

“We’ve just got to get better,” Haayer said. “The potential that this team has is unbelievable.”

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Haley Sawyer
A Pennsylvania native, Haley Sawyer has covered sports across the country. She is a graduate of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh and primarily covers Football, boys basketball, girls soccer and girls golf for The Signal.
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