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Matchup Problems

Posted: February 13, 2008 2:37 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Canyon High point guard Mark Lewis (13) and Canyon High center Cody Anderson, below, are the top two scorers in the Foothill League this season. Canyon High point guard Mark Lewis (13) and Canyon High center Cody Anderson, below, are the top two scorers in the Foothill League this season.
Canyon High point guard Mark Lewis (13) and Canyon High center Cody Anderson, below, are the top two scorers in the Foothill League this season.
Canyon boys basketball head coach Chad Phillips can only laugh.

Just imagine his vision before the season:
Here I have this athletic point guard, tough as nails, who can score and dish.
Then I have this 6-foot-10 center, with feet like a dancer and a knack for scoring and rebounding.
I've got it made.
He had to think it.
After a 13-13 campaign and a 4-6 record through the minefield that is the Foothill League, the Canyon Cowboys should still seem undaunted as they stand in the CIF-Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs.
As many will tell you, matchups are a big factor in the postseason and point guard Mark Lewis and center Cody Anderson, well, they're just plain difficult to matchup with.
"We're built for the playoffs," Phillips says. "To have a great point guard and a great center and we're actually playing our best ball right now. However, I have to tell you this ..."
Then comes the laugh, not out of fortune, but out of misfortune.
Just one week after Anderson banged his head on the hard Canyon High gymnasium's floor, so did Lewis on Feb. 8.
Anderson's result was 14 stitches in his head.
Fortunately for him, he was able to play in the Cowboys' following game.
Lewis, one of the school's greatest point guards ever, was less fortunate.
In the league finale against Valencia Friday, the gritty guard came down hard on the floor, bouncing the side of his head.
It caused a concussion and now Lewis will miss today's wild-card game at Temecula Valley.
It leaves what ifs - as has been the case for Canyon all year.
"Going in, I thought the sky was the limit, but," Lewis says, leaving his thought hanging.
He says later: "I saw our draw. We could go pretty far if we take care of business with this win. We'll see what happens. We might be able to make a little run. It's definitely not over."
Could, if, might - words that are akin to uncertainty.
But maybe - another uncertain word - maybe this team could be the next, if healthy, to make an unlikely run through the postseason.
In 2005, Hart was a wild card that was mediocre in the regular season.
The Indians went through five teams to make it to Anaheim's Honda Center for a shocking spot in the championship game.
What if Canyon gets healthy?
This combination of its two players is a coach's dream.
They were the top two scorers in the Foothill League this season - Anderson at 18 points per game and Lewis at 16.5.
Lewis added 6.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
Anderson also grabbed 10 rebounds per contest and had double-doubles in 13 games.
The former baseball player - he pitched and played first base until deciding his size was better suited for basketball - Anderson has transformed his basketball game.
The Canyon basketball program used to run to a gas station and back for conditioning - some 2.6 miles.
Anderson lagged so much that he had to run the school's track instead while his teammates were off on their jaunt.
"In the off-season, all the coaches would be on me to get in shape," Anderson admits. "I didn't really want to until last year. I guess I could be pretty good, but I wasn't dedicated."
He dedicated himself and became the first Santa Clarita Valley prep basketball player to get a scholarship to a an NCAA Division I school since Hart's Ali Peek in 1992.
Peek went to St. Mary's.
Anderson will be playing at Montana State.
Phillips says Lewis would be the next if he weren't 5-foot-10.
Anderson also has the ability to shoot from all points of the floor, which creates another matchup problem for opposing teams.
"Those two are as good a tandem as I've seen," says Valencia High co-head coach Greg Hayes.
Hayes has been coaching basketball for 25 years.
He says Lewis has this ability to create space for himself that he hasn't seen in a long time.
As for Anderson?
"Our guys were bewildered, not frustrated, but bewildered for the first three quarters of the game," Hayes says. "You can watch a guy like him on film all day long, but he's so strong."
So it's easy to see why the combination could lead Canyon down a long road, despite the Cowboys' record.
Four other teams in the Foothill League have the same opportunity.
Hart and Golden Valley are also wild cards, but Canyon is best suited to make a deep run among the three teams based on the Anderson-Lewis combo.
Now it's just what ifs and players hoping not to think what could have been.
"It would be a lot of fun to see what we could do at full strength," Phillips says.
Would be.
We'll see if it happens.


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