The Canyon boys basketball team currently has the most wins in a season since its 2015-16 slate. And the Cowboys are only halfway in.
With Friday night’s 59-44 home win over Dos Pueblos, Canyon is currently on a three-game win streak and it’s paying dividends in terms of team morale.
“It’s definitely nice to change the culture around here because we’ve been struggling, but we’ve been working really hard this whole season,” said junior Anthony Gallo. “And I feel like we deserve these wins because nobody knows all the effort our team has gone through to get these wins.”
The Cowboys (7-11 overall, 1-1 in Foothill League) came into the game focused, despite Dos Pueblos’ late arrival that pushed tipoff back about 20 minutes. Aaron Berko got the scoring going, nailing a 3-pointer with 7:34 left in the first quarter. Gallo followed with a trey of his own a minute later.
“I think we’re a good 3-point shooting team but it’s the kind of 3’s we take,” said coach Sean DeLong. “We take passing around the outside 3’s, we had a lot of inside work from Connor (Cooper) tonight being strong and that opened up the outside.”
Controlling the pace in the second quarter, Canyon held the Chargers (7-12 overall, 1-1 in Channel League) to just three points in the frame. The Cowboys’ defense began to box out and force Dos Pueblos to make uncomfortable shots, a theme that continued into the third quarter.
Bigs like Cooper and Ryan Sloan applied steady pressure and Willie Yomba came up with a few big steals.
“I feel like if I catch it, I’m going to find other people,” said Cooper, a junior. “Our team is so good about relocating so it makes it easy for me to dish it out in the post.
“Our game plan was mainly to box out, make sure we just keep them to one and done and I felt that we did that for the most part.”
The Chargers came within four points of tying the game in the third quarter, but a timely 3-pointer from Cole Sy gave Canyon a 39-32 lead with less than 10 seconds to go.
Troy Bietsch played tough throughout the game, although his highlight came in the fourth quarter as he shed a defender then pushed against another as he went up for a layup and got the and-one. His layup brought the score to 47-36.
Gallo led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Cole Sy and Aaron Berko who each had nine, although DeLong said that defense is more of a focus than scoring.
“We’re not like everybody else,” he said. “We’re not a team that’s trying to score 70, 80. We’re trying to work in the defense and get the best shot.”
Canyon plays Thousand Oaks in a non-league game tomorrow before resuming Foothill League play against Hart on Tuesday. They’ll approach those games with the same mindset they’ve had all season.
“We go into every game thinking that we’re going to win no matter who the opponent is,” Gallo said. “I feel like the past couple years we’ve already played into the mindset of a losing mentality, but this season we’re coming to win every single game.”