The Canyon Cowboys (17-8, 7-1) and the Hart Indians (16-4, 6-0) came into their Thursday matchup as the No. 1 and 2 teams in Division 3AA girls’ basketball. Despite the Cowboys being the slight favorite at home, the Indians prevailed with a 52-49 victory.
With the win, the Indians still remain perfect in Foothill League play, but the Cowboys will have one more chance to beat them in hopes of earning co-league championship honors on Tuesday, assuming both teams win out the rest of their games.
“We got to make our free throws,” said Cowboys head coach Jessica Haayer. “It was a tough game. They were super physical. We didn’t hit a lot of shots and we did things that were unacceptable if we wanted to win. We just got to be better.”
There was never a moment of the game when it felt like one team had the upper hand, as was evident in a 23-22 first half in favor of the Cowboys. Laney Grider led the Indians with eight first-half points while Josie Regez led the Cowboys with seven points.
In the third quarter it stayed even tighter, with both teams scoring 17 points each heading into a fourth quarter with Foothill League championship aspirations on the line.
The Indians would keep fighting behind Grider, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds and six assists. Morgan Mack finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but Kayla Hourigan would take over the game, finishing with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds and scoring 15 of her points in the second half alone.
“It feels awesome,” said Hourigan in response to her feelings after the big win. “I’m so proud of this team. We knew what we needed to do. We had to get boards and work for them. We started off slow but we finished in the end, which is what matters.”
The Cowboys hung around with the efforts of Aaliyah Garcia, who led the team with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. Brielle Miller finished with 12 points, six rebounds and two steals and Regez finished with nine points and six rebounds before being fouled out.
With some key errors down the line for the Cowboys in missed free throws, costly turnovers and uncharacteristic missed shots, the Indians would hold onto the narrow three-point win and take sole possession of first place in the Foothill League.
“I feel good. They played tough and we held our own against them,” said Indians head coach Jerry Mike. “It’s tough to win games at Canyon with how hard they play and how well coached they are. We were up to the challenge so it was fun. All game it was back and forth, but it feels good to be on the winning side. We worked hard to get here and we’re going to enjoy this tonight.”
Ryan Menzie, a graduate student at Cal State University, Long Beach for Kinesiology with the option Sport Management, graduated from Cal State University, Northridge with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Journalism. Have a story or want to talk about sports? Send an email to [email protected].