The Canyon boys basketball team struggled out of the gate on Tuesday night and could not overcome a first-quarter, double-digit deficit, falling to Shalhevet High School 64-57 at Canyon High School in the season opener.
The Cowboys had difficulty scoring in the first quarter, with the team’s only field goal coming near the end of the period on a jumper from senior guard Cole Sy. Canyon trailed 14-2 at the end of the quarter.
Head coach Sean DeLong didn’t make excuses for the way his team came out in the beginning of the game. He believes the team didn’t start as a cohesive unit, which led to the early deficit.
“The other team came out with a lot of energy, give them credit. We came out doing a lot of individual stuff and that’s not the kind of team we are,” DeLong said. “Maybe some nerves, it’s an excuse. It just wasn’t what we wanted to do, not what we geared up for.”
Utilizing a full-court press to start the second quarter, momentum started to swing in the Cowboys’ favor as they were able to force the Firehawks into several turnovers.
However, when the Firehawks were able to escape the full-court pressure, they often ended up with uncontested layups, an issue DeLong attributed to taking too many unwarranted chances on defense.
“Not gambling on defense. It seemed like tonight it was either a turnover or layup,” he said. “We have to have an in-between in there too.”
Canyon outscored Shalhevet by three in the second quarter to make the halftime score 26-17.
The Cowboys picked it up even more after halftime, as the 3-ball started to fall for Canyon. Sy was able to knock down three 3-pointers in the second half and senior forward Willie Yomba hit two of his own. Junior guards Anthony Regalado and Anthony Gallo as well as senior Ryan Sloan each hit a 3-pointer in the second half.
After outscoring Shalhevet 23-14 in the third quarter, Canyon tied the game at 40-40 heading into the final period.
The Cowboys were able to pull ahead by a couple of points to start the fourth quarter, but too many turnovers and an unfavorable shot selection ultimately doomed Canyon.
“When you push the tempo it’s tough for high school kids to understand what a good shot is,” DeLong said. “Sometimes when you push the tempo you think the first shot is the best shot and that’s not necessarily the case. We’re still trying to work to make sure we get the best shot.”
Sy led the Cowboys with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and Regalado finished with 10 points. Yomba scored eight points and junior big man Connor Cooper had eight points and eight rebounds.
Despite the loss, DeLong was pleased with the way his team fought throughout the game.
He knows it will take time to turn around a program that has struggled the last couple of seasons.
“I saw a lot of positives. We worked hard and the guys care. They want to get better,” DeLong said. “As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’re going to keep grinding.”
Canyon will have the opportunity to rebound in its second game of the season on Monday, Nov. 19 against Paraclete. The contest starts at 6:30 p.m. at Canyon High School.