The unheralded Grand Canyon boys took a big step towards earning the number two seed in the 1A North regionals, defeating host Fredonia 44-37 Saturday night.
The Canyon used a stout defense that limited the Lynx to very few good scoring opportunities, resulting in a 30-15 halftime lead that the Canyon boys never relinquished.
Junior guard Dan Trenchard scored 12 first half points and Dan Celis added 9, making Fredonia pay for double- and triple-teaming senior center Bille Booth, who finished with a total of 11 points.
"This was a big, big win for us," Head Coach Dan Lopez commented. "We played one of our best games of the season. I know that the box score doesn't show it, but junior guard Cruz Caballero and freshman guard John Kissner did a tremendous job taking care of the ball, rebounding and playing defense."
He also acknowledged Andres Velazquez and Andrew Araiza, saying, "They played a key role coming off the bench and doing a good job taking care of the 'grunt' work."
While he concedes that he's led more talented teams in his seven years of coaching, his core producers have the most heart.
"The work and effort my team exhibits is unbelievable when you consider that we have five to six kids sitting at home because they did not get it done in the classroom," said Lopez. "I just can not express how much respect I have for this team and the effort they put forth every game. This is one of the best teams I have had the honor of coaching.
The Canyon wraps up the regular season with a key conference game at home this Friday against Ash Fork, starting at 5:30 p.m. with girls varsity, followed by boys varsity at 7 p.m.
Both games are must-wins for the program. The winner of the girls game takes the final berth to regionals. The boys must win to guarantee second place in the conference and a number two seed against probable opponents St. Michael's or Joseph City.
"Our conference is very balanced so we just want to get to regionals because it is a whole new season," said Lopez. "I really think that from a regional tournament perspective any team can beat any other and that is what makes it exciting. Both of our programs will be ready! Please let's have a big crowd for Friday night."