The Canyon boys basketball team earned a 57-55 victory over Royal at the Clash of the Coast Tournament at Pacifica High School on Wednesday, but it didn’t come without some adversity.
Coming off a three-point loss to Quartz Hill on Saturday, which the Cowboys felt like they should have won, the team rebounded with two intense days of practice and entered the game focused.
“We are trying to get experience and the only way to get experience is if you get experience, there’s no way around it,” said Canyon head coach Sean DeLong. “We had two really good days of focused practice. The boys bought in and always recommit themselves.”
Although the Cowboys (5-4 overall) entered the contest focused, things changed once play started. Turning the ball over multiple times in the opening minutes, Canyon fell behind 8-2, but the Cowboys were resilient and scrapped their way back to tie the game at 10-10.
After the initial turnovers, Canyon cleaned things up and had nine the rest of the game. Miles Davis did much of the brunt work in the early going, attacking inside to keep the Cowboys close.
“Again, we are just working on fundamentals with him and getting him to understand how good he can be,” DeLong said of Davis. “He’s probably one of the most athletic players in the league and people are probably going to be shocked at how athletic he is.”
Davis finished with 10 points.
Both teams went battled back and forth throughout the first half and were tied 30-30 at halftime.
Changing up tactics, the Cowboys came out of the half on an eight-point run, but Royal answered with one of their own to tie the game once again. With about three minutes left in the game Royal took a five-point lead and things with the possibility of a Canyon win looking bleak.
Playing inspired defense, Darius Berko did a good job of containing Royal’s leading scorer and allowed other players to contribute on the offensive end.
Connor Cooper finished the game with 14 points and eight rebounds, but none were bigger than his two free throws to tie the game when they were down two with about 20 seconds to go in the game.
“We have been trying to get him to live up to his potential as a senior,” DeLong said of Cooper. “He’s had good moments of being tough and being dominant and today he just put it all together. They have a couple of bigs on their team that are very successful and he battled with them toe-to-toe.”
The following possession, the Highlanders (6-3) took the ball out, but sophomore Brandon Boldroff stole the ball, drove down the court and made a layup as the buzzer sounded to seal the Cowboys’ victory.
“He’s a very smart player,” DeLong said. “Brandon knows the game and is not as disciplined as we would like, but because he’s so smart, he reads things better and makes up for a lot of fundamental mistakes which kind of frustrate me with his natural ability and knowing the game.
“He had three or four plays like that tonight where he just took the ball away from somebody else and made a play out of it, he played above his years today. He had an all-around game tonight, still lots of improvement there, but he’s working hard every day to get better.”
Boldroff finished the game with 11 points, five assists and four steals.
Canyon plays Westlake tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Pacifica High School.