BY BARRY WONG
Turnovers, field-goal percentage and rebounding all help determine a game’s outcome, but at Friday night’s Sunrise Region championship game between Canyon Springs and Las Vegas, fouls also played a big role.
More specifically, how the Pioneers and Wildcats responded to foul trouble for key players played a big role in Canyon Springs’s 64-55 victory.
In the second quarter, brothers Gerad and Jordan Davis of Canyon Springs could only watch, as foul trouble kept them out of most of the quarter.
“It was real disappointing being on the bench,” Gerad Davis said.
The Pioneers went from leading by six to start the quarter to trailing 30-28 at the half. It was an eight-point swing, but with two of the Pioneers big three on the bench, it was a huge stretch of basketball for Canyon Springs.
“It was a time for our team to come together,” senior Shaquile Carr said.
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For the Pioneers, being down by one possession at the break was a win. When the third quarter began with the Davis brothers back in, the team attacked the basket, both with drives and by crashing the boards.
A Gerad Davis rebound and acrobatic putback with 4:27 remaining in the third quarter not only helped tie the game up at 36-36, but it forced Vegas junior Ray Smith to commit his fourth foul.
“I did that over the summer with my dad. He just told me to be aggressive and always be strong with the ball,” Davis said.
Canyon Springs closed out the frame on 12-4 run to take a 48-40 lead as Smith was forced to watch from the bench.
“Ray Smith is the heart and soul, the face of that team,” Carr said. “When we got him out, that meant it was our time to attack even more.”
The eight-point cushion was huge, because it’s disappeared quickly, as the Wildcats opened the fourth with a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to 48-47.
That’s the closest Vegas would get as Carr scored on a drive and a pull-up three to increase the lead back up to 53-48. A Carr slam on an outlet feed from Jordan Davis late in the game helped seal the deal for the Pioneers. He finished with a game-high 25 points.
“He has a lot of heart,” Canyon Springs head coach Freddie Banks said. “He did a lot of things well tonight. The big three that he shot, that’s what turned the game around.”
The Davis brothers combined for 22 points. For Vegas, Smith finished with 20 points, while Tyler Bey added 15 and had several big blocks that started transition breaks ending in Wildcat buckets.
Canyon Springs will play in the first boys State Division I semifinal at 4:40 p.m. on Thursday at the University of Nevada-Reno’s Lawlor Events Center. The Pioneers will face the loser of Saturday’s game between Reno High and Spanish Springs.