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Canyon hoops wins defensive battle

Posted: January 17, 2014 10:33 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2014 10:33 p.m.

The Canyon Cowboys boys basketball team made only two baskets in the fourth quarter.

But the final bucket is the one that people will people remember.

After suffering a left knee injury and struggling from the floor earlier in the game, Canyon junior guard Ben Taufahema hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1:07 left on the clock, which helped seal a 53-50 victory for the Cowboys over the West Ranch Wildcats Friday at West Ranch.

“It’s just an open opportunity,” said Taufahema, who was 3-for-15 before he made the game-winner. “The defense collapsed, and left me open. It’s my job to knock down that shot. It’s a big-time moment. Big-time play.”

The moment was set up because the Wildcats never went away.

Every time Canyon (18-1 overall, 2-0 Foothill League) started to pull away, West Ranch responded.

Trailing 44-39 heading into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats (6-11, 0-2) began the period on a 9-3 run to take a 48-47 lead.

“I thought our guys obviously played hard and battled,” said West Ranch head coach Shant Bicakci. “It’s never been a problem with our team. They play their butts off, they really do. We just couldn’t make a couple plays down the stretch to win the game.”

However, the Cowboys outscored West Ranch 6-2 in the final minutes, including Taufahema’s shot from downtown to make the score 51-48.

“It was huge,” said Canyon head coach Sean DeLong of the game-winning basket. “We hadn’t been hitting, and for him to come out, injured, (and deliver), he’s just that kind of player. There are few players that come around who are just special. When the game is on the line, he’s going to hit it.”

Taufahema finished with 14 points in the game, while Steven Brotz led the team with 15 points.

As a whole, the Cowboys shot 19-for-70 from the field, while the Wildcats went 18-for-53.

West Ranch senior forward Izayah Doyle led all scorers with 18 points.

Ryan Beddeo and Christian Ware-Berry each added nine points for the Wildcats.

The loss marks back-to-back games where West Ranch had Foothill League contenders on the ropes at home, but were unable to secure a victory.

The Wildcats fell to Hart 73-68 in the closing moments in the league opener on Tuesday.

Bicakci said it’s an uphill battle for his team. But with the competitive losses, perhaps the peak isn’t that far away.

“I know our guys are talented enough to hang with anybody in this league, and for certain to win those games,” Bicacki said.

On Tuesday, West Ranch will look for its first Foothill victory on the road at Saugus, while Canyon will be play at Valencia, which is also unbeaten thus far in league play.


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