RENO – Canyon Springs is back in the NIAA State Division championship game for the first time since claiming the 2011 crown thanks to a 66-61 victory over Spanish Springs Thursday afternoon at Lawlor Events Center.
But you might say that’s just the half of it.
Freddie Banks’ Pioneers had to rally from an early 21-7 first half deficit and trailed 29-19 at halftime. But after a sloppy first 16 minutes that included 0-for-15 shooting from 3-point range, Canyon Springs blew out the Cougars with a 37-13 run to start the second half.
Senior guard Gerad Davis scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half while point guard Shaquile Carr scored 17 points and played lockdown defense on Spanish Springs guard Kenny Meyer, who finished with 14 points but was held to just three in the second half.
“That’s the worst first half we’ve ever played,” Banks said. “I told them (at halftime) no more 3-pointers. We’re 0-for-15. Anybody shooting one is coming out. We shot one (by Chris Nelson) and made it. And he’s lucky he made it because he was coming out of the game.”
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Both Davis and Carr were outstanding defensively as Canyon Springs’ trapping defense forced turnover after turnover, wearing down the Cougars in the process.
“I didn’t care about the offense that much,” Carr said. “I just focused on No. 15 (Meyer) in the second half.”
Canyon Springs will play the winner of Thursday night’s other semifinal between Sunset Region champ Bishop Gorman and Northern Division champ Reno on Friday night at 8 p.m.
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” Carr said. “Whoever we play we’re going to put our heart and soul out there and we’re going to play as a team and try and get the ‘W’.”
“It feels great,” Banks said of being back in the finals. “It ain’t over yet. It ain’t over yet. We’ve got one more to go. So it ain’t over yet. But it feels good to be in the finals.”
CHECK BACK LATER TONIGHT FOR GAME HIGHLIGHTS FOR BOTH CANYON SPRINGS AND BISHOP GORMAN