Canyon girls’ basketball (4-0, 1-0) ran wild in its league-opener 64-17 win against the hosting West Ranch Wildcats (1-3, 0-1) on Tuesday.
The Cowboys were led by reigning Foothill League Player of the Year Aaliyah Garcia. The point guard poured in 22 points while adding six steals and a block on defense.
Canyon jumped to a big lead and started both opening quarters with 8-0 runs. The Wildcats struggled to break through the full-court press and handed Canyon layup after layup under the basket.
The Cowboys were still able to run a half-court offense frequently and moved the ball well in their fourth straight win.
“[The team’s start] feels good,” said Garcia. “I think we just have to keep the momentum going and keep playing hard every game.”
The ball movement helped the team outscore West Ranch 29-6 in the second quarter, going into the halftime break up 44-9.
“Defense is my forte. It’s something that I pride myself on,” said Canyon head coach Jessica Haayer. “It’s something we work on every day. Our press was nice, a lot of easy looks came out of it. They just do well, they play physical, they play hard and aggressive.”
The Wildcats were forcing plenty of Canyon tough passes early with a full-court press of their own. West Ranch dialed it back in the second quarter, when the Cowboys did their most damage at the rim.
Canyon junior Josie Regez matched the Cats’ points with 17 of her own along with five rebounds and two steals.
Senior guard Jade Sims finished with 14 points, four boards and five steals.
The matchup was the first of likely many between Haayer and her former player Daisy Cardenas.
“[My former players] are my kids,” said Haayer. “They come and play often with us at Canyon and we regularly talked about this game happening months ago. They’re my girls and it’s always fun. It’s fun seeing them in action, seeing them do what they love. I’m sure I’ll see them again down the road somewhere but I’m proud of them.”
Cardenas is readying her team for a marathon of a season, but with a handful of veteran players the Wildcat season is in good hands.
“What I’ve liked so far about the team is they’re willing to work,” said Cardenas. “It’s just a matter of continuing the work process. At practice, they are open to learning new things, and they’re very open minded, but it’s just getting it to translate into the game. So they’re very open minded. They’re very eager to learn.”
Senior point guard Alana Topete battled throughout the game and led the Cats with six points.
The night still belonged to her opposite, Garcia, who has already sparked her campaign to repeat as Player of the Year with a bang.
Canyon will get a week before returning to the court. The Cowboys will host Golden Valley on Tuesday.
The Wildcats will continue to work and will prepare for their next challenge on Friday when they travel to Saugus.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Cardenas. “Everything is a learning opportunity for me and the girls. For me, it’s a lot of execution. What we work on in practice needs to be executed in games. But other than that, everything’s going fine. In practice, we compete with each other. But are we competing enough to help us win games or are we just competing enough to get us through practice?”