By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Canyon Cowboys proved once again why they are one of the hardest-working girls basketball teams on defense by producing 13 steals and forcing nearly 20 turnovers as a team.
With the stifling pressure and intense defense, the Cowboys (14-7, 4-0) took down the West Ranch Wildcats (6-10, 0-4), 71-48, on Friday.
It was a game the Cowboys had marked down on their calendar with the team being aware of the Wildcats’ new transfers now being eligible to play.
“Our focus was communication and being prepared for situations of the game and knowing how to play it out,” said Cowboys head coach Jessica Haayer. “They did what we worked on and did a great job. West Ranch is a much different team now than when we played them on Nov. 30 with their transfers now being eligible to play. They knew it was a big one and the kids came out and played well.”
The game started off strong with the Cowboys finishing the first quarter being up 15-13. The Cowboys soon settled down and took a quick 27-19 lead into halftime powered behind Aaliyah Garcia and Jade Sims leading the team with seven points before the halftime break.
The Wildcats were led by Elizabeth Shimuzu heading into the half with seven points.
By the end of the third quarter, the entire game script flipped on its head. The Cowboys scored 27 points in the first half and erupted for 26 points in the third quarter alone while holding the Wildcats to 11 points.
Despite the Wildcats being led by Shimuzu, who finished with a game-high 26 points and three rebounds, the Cowboys’ relentless attack to the basket proved too much for the Wildcats.
The Cowboys were led by Josie Regez, who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and a team high five steals. Genesis Gonzalez finished with 14 points, scoring 11 of her points in the second half.
Sims finished her night with 13 points and a team high of eight rebounds while Garcia led the charge, finishing with the team high in points (17) and assists (5) while also producing three steals and three rebounds.
“It was a huge win for us. We were looking forward to this game all year,” said Garcia. “I was looking forward to setting up my teammates and adding points myself. Rebounding and playing good defense the rest of the game was going to come to us. We came in hyped and excited to play and I’m glad we came out with the win.”
The Cowboys look to stay undefeated in league play against the Golden Valley Grizzlies on Friday while the Wildcats look to regroup in a tough battle against the reigning Foothill League champion Saugus Centurions on Tuesday.
“We weren’t able to execute,” said Wildcats head coach Carlos Fandino. “We hung around in the first half, but it was tough due to it being the first time picking up a basketball in over 12 days. We couldn’t come out and execute and Canyon is the better team, period.”