The revenge tour continues for Canyon Cowboys boys’ basketball as the team knocked off the Golden Valley Grizzlies on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies were the third team that had previously beaten the Cowboys but suffered the opposite fate in round two.
Canyon played tight defense in the backcourt and gave Golden Valley’s guards little to no room to work with atop the key.
Chigozie Osuji, Isaac Yuhico and Collin Kusumi combined for six steals along with a ton of tipped passes and deflections to lead the Cowboys’ defense.
“We’ve had three good practices and then it was just that defensive pressure starting with me and everyone coming off the bench,” Kusumi said. “We just held that pressure the whole time. If we got out of control, we got back under control and we just weathered what they had.”
The Cowboys pulled ahead by a hair in the second but never lost their lead en route to a 56-49 victory.
Junior Eric Kubel led Canyon (14-10, 3-6) with 20 points, with four 3-pointers and a pair of assists.
Golden Valley (17-8, 5-4) started off the game with impressive defensive efforts. The Grizzlies registered five blocks in the first half as they forced the Cowboys into difficult looks. Wyatt Printz had four points, four rebounds, three blocks and a steal, while Kenyen Andrews had the same points and blocks with two steals and a pair of blocks.
Senior Tristan Tiu gave the team a lift in the fourth quarter after his team went cold from the floor. Tiu added eight of his 15 points in the final quarter and also finished with three boards and two assists.
Golden Valley missed some inside shots to close but a Grizzly unforced turnover on an inbound play iced the game in crunch time.
Angelo Sampson did most of the scoring in the first quarter for the Grizzlies. Sampson added eight of the team’s 15 first-quarter points in the opening quarter.
Golden Valley put up 70 points on Canyon in the teams’ first matchup earlier this season. The Cowboys made the right adjustments and played strong defense to hold the Grizzlies in check.
“Our defense won us this game,” Kubel said. “Golden Valley is usually averaging above 70 points and we held them to under 50. That’s what won us our game.”
Canyon basketball emphasizes defense and has done well before Cowboys head coach Ali Monfared suited up as a player for the green machine.
“It’s just been something since I played here at Canyon…We have always been about defense here,” Monfared said. “When your offense isn’t working for whatever reason, your defense comes on the road and at home. That was our message the whole night. If we were going to give up 70 points, we were not going to win. If we give up 60, we’re likely not going to win. And that’s always what we’re about.”
Monfared has seen his team adjust well when playing teams Canyon has previously faced. The coach gives all the praise to his players doing the work.
“I give all the credit to the kids,” Monfared said. “They’ve really listened, watched film and bought in. We’re doing a better job of taking away the strengths of other teams at least the best we can.”
The Cowboy win snaps the Grizzlies’ four-game win streak heading into the final stretch of the regular season. The Foothill League race is as tight as ever. The third through sixth seeds will likely come down to the wire with just three more league contests left on the schedule.
Golden Valley will have a tough road ahead to finish out the season but still has a solid shot of making the postseason after missing the playoffs last year.
The Grizzlies head to Saugus on Friday to take on the Centurions at 6:30 p.m. Canyon will also return to action Friday night, when the team returns home to host Valencia at 6:30 p.m.