Miscues and awry shots led to a low-scoring affair with Canyon boys basketball coming out on top, 45-39, over Golden Valley on Tuesday night at Golden Valley High School.
Both teams struggled to put any offense together throughout the 32 minutes of play. Perhaps the news of Kobe Bryant’s death has shaken basketball to its core and caused a momentary lapse of concentration among the sport’s participants.
“I think there was just a lot of emotions in the stands and emotions all over the place,” Canyon interim head coach Ali Monfared said. “We dedicated this game to Kobe and all the people that were part of that tragedy. I think in basketball you can get caught up sometimes.”
Before the game’s 6:30 p.m. tipoff, a circle formed around center court comprised of all Golden Valley and Canyon basketball players, freshmen through seniors, boys and girls. They led a moment of silence that lasted 24.8 seconds in honor of Bryant.
The final score of the first quarter was 16-11 with Canyon on top. However, it was the second quarter where things started to fall apart.
The second quarter saw a total of only 8 points scored. The drought set the pace for almost the entirety of the rest of the game. Neither team had hit the 25-point mark before halftime.
Despite the low scoring affair, Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz said it was all part of the plan. A slow attack has been a part of the Grizzly offense since league play started, so bringing an opposing offense down to speed is a sound strategy.
“That’s the way we wanted to play,” he said. “That was the designed intent, to try to slow the game and try to limit offensive possessions. We’ve struggled at times scoring, so if you can slow down the pace of the game a little bit, you can try to give yourself some opportunities.”
The Cowboys (13-12 overall, 3-4 Foothill League) managed to gain traction in the third quarter. 15 points in the third gave them the momentum they needed to get through a tough game, especially when holding the Grizzlies to only seven points.
“Our guys continued to battle through adversity,” Monfared said. “We hang our hat on defense, held them to 20 points in three quarters. Your defense shows up every single night and you find a way to will through.”
However, Golden Valley (5-17, 0-7) did not hang back for long and made the fourth quarter more interesting. For the first time since early in the first half, the Grizzlies commanded the floor, which gave their fans a twinkle of hope at a comeback.
“We hit a couple of deep shots late, so that was nice,” Printz said. “We just have to continue to try to execute.”
The Grizzlies outscored the Cowboys 19-8 as they began to figure things out near the end of the game. Unfortunately for them, the moment of clarity came too late and they fell to the Cowboys by six.
“I’m just happy we could get this win,” Monfared said. “We really did dedicate this to Kobe and his daughter and the seven other victims. Life is short and precious, and you never know when it’s going to be your last game or last anything.”
Both teams will get back to the hardwood on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Cowboys will travel to Hart to take on an Indians team that is riding high after taking down the Foothill League front-runner. Golden Valley will look to pick up its first win against Saugus.