Ribet Academy’s height too tall a task for Canyon girls basketball

Canyon’s Gabby Sanchez (24) decides on her next move during a home match against Ribet Academy on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

When Canyon girls basketball played Ribet Academy for the second time this season on Thursday night, the team looked relatively the same, except for one big thing.

Oregon State signee Andrea Aquino was eligible to play after sitting out 30 days due to transfer rules. Aquino is 6 feet 9 inches, making her the tallest female high school player in the nation.

The Fighting Frogs utilized Aquino and a handful of other tall players to secure a 45-29 win over the Cowboys.

“They’re just so big,” said Canyon coach Jessica Haayer. “You can work on rebounding, you can work on this work and on that, but when is game speed and you’re trying to crash against four girls that are over six feet tall, it’s tough to do.”

MORE: Prep girls hoops notebook: Canyon aiming high; Saugus, West Ranch enjoying win streaks

Bosie State commit Rachel Bowers (who is 6-3 according to MaxPreps), Selasi Mawugbe and Gabby Sanchez were tasked with handling Aquino as well as Lola Pendande and Janette Mensah, who are 6-3 and 6-2, respectively.

“I think Gabby and Selasi did awesome,” said Bowers. “Despite being significantly shorter than them, they did great. They kept their hands up, they bodied them and they did great against them.”

As a result, the Cowboys (13-4) held Ribet (19-2) to their fourth-lowest point total of the season.

“The way to break their press is basically just cutting and that’s what we were trying to do,” Bowers said. “Just cut around, fly around because when people fly around you kind of get lost.”

Offensively, Canyon came within one point of tying the game on two different occasions in the second quarter.

At halftime, Ribet was leading 17-14.

“I think we had to get into a rhythm offensively and I kind of had a transition offense,” Haayer said, “but everything was just disrupted by their size and width and strength, so it was challenging.”

Bowers led the Cowboys with nine points, while Talia Taufaasau and Sanchez followed with seven apiece.

Canyon next plays Granada Hills Charter at home on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Canyon’s Talia Taufaasau (3) dribbles down court during a home match against Ribet Academy on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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