BURBANK — The Canyon girls basketball team returned to John Burroughs High School for their final Burroughs Summer League game, facing off against travel ball team No Limit Blue on Tuesday.
Playing the San Fernando Valley-based team for the second time this summer, the Cowboys came out victorious with a 47-40 win.
“I thought we did a really good job on the defensive end and on the offensive end in finding the gaps and not being affected by the press in the first half,” said Canyon head coach Jessica Haayer. “It got us here and there, but I thought overall, we had a pretty good game. I see growth and that’s the most important.”
The Cowboys began the contest going inside to their “bread-and-butter” as Lucy Collins and Chidinma Okafor each provided a post presence that none of the opposing players could match.
On the offense end, the two showed great chemistry dumping the ball off to each other among the multitude of double teams that No Limit Blue threw at them.
Collins finished the game with a team-high 14 points and Okafor chipped in with eight points of her own.
Defensively, the Cowboys were a nightmare to say the least. Adding to the length and size of the front court with Collins and Okafor, Kiki Taufaasau and Riley LaPlant provided intense on-ball defense on the wings, forcing No Limit Blue into taking perimeter shots.
“They are tall, long. They affect shots,” Haayer said. “When anybody brings it into the house, Chidinma makes it go somewhere else so it’s really nice to have their length because we can play a variety of defenses with them and its fun. It’s fun to see a bunch of 5’11,” 6-footers out there working so it’s nice to have them all back and have them playing together.”
No Limit Blue tried to counterattack the Cowboys post players, setting up a full-court press, but thanks to Jwamee Advincula’s ball handling skills and heightened confidence were able to successfully break the press.
At halftime, Canyon led 26-16.
In the second frame, No Limit Blue came out with a vengeance, forcing the Cowboys into turning the ball over multiple times with their press, leading to an 11-2 run that cut the Cowboys’ lead to 28-27 with 15 minutes remaining in the game.
Going back to their “bread-and-butter,” the Cowboys dumped the ball back into the post with Collins and Okafor to extend the lead once again.
Advincula continued her performance by playing tough denial and on-ball defense compounded with her ability to get to the rim time after time down the court.
Advincula finished the game with six points and numerous steals and assists.
“Since spring we kind of started pushing it on her and she’s done an incredible job, as you can see,” Haayer said. “She’s learning how to turn that corner and finish on top of turning that corner and dump, find and kick. I thought her transition, she dropped so many looks in transition, she’s doing a really great job I can’t commend her enough.
“The thing that hides the most is her on-ball defense, she has incredible on-ball defense that I don’t think people realize, but she gets the lowest and she can really work. She has a motor on her, that’s for sure.”
With under two minutes to go, No Limit Blue tried to slow the game down, fouling on every offensive possession that Canyon had, but thanks to coach Haayer’s insistence on hitting free throws in practice, the Cowboys were able to quiet the comeback and come away with the win.
“That’s a focus of mine,” Haayer said. “Every day between any transition drill or any competitive drill, we shoot free throws. They are crucial. I tell my kids, free throws and layups, that’s what wins games.
“It’s a big focus of mine especially if we are going to pound it in and get those calls. We have to capitalize. And they did a nice job of that
It would have been the other way if we didn’t hit those free throws, that’s for sure.”