Phantoms split on<br>conference road trip
GC VILLAGE — There's nothing like a little luck in the world of sports.
Leading 71-69 with 24 seconds left in the game, Grand Canyon had to come up with a big defensive stand to stop Music Mountain.
The Peach Springs team brought the ball downcourt and tried a three-pointer for the lead. The shot was no good, but a teammate came up with the offensive rebound. His attempt to knot the score on a shot underneath also failed.
Music Mountain got the rebound again, this time controlling the ball over in the corner. Another three-point attempt sailed through the air. Again, no good, and Grand Canyon had escaped with the two-point victory.
"They had two good shots to win and one to tie, but we held on," Grand Canyon coach Dan Lopez said. "It was close all the way; nobody led by more than five points."
Music Mountain put up a good fight with only six players on the roster, two of those transferring from Seligman this year.
After falling behind the Phantoms in the first quarter, Music Mountain rallied for a 36-33 lead before the break.
Grand Canyon had a one-point lead heading into the fourth to set up the final thrilling eight minutes.
With less than a minute remaining and the Phantoms trailing by one point, Grand Canyon's Michael Vincent drew a foul and went to the line.
Vincent made the first shot on the front end of the one-and-one to tie the score, 69-69. On the second attempt, the shot did not fall and Music Mountain appeared to have the rebound.
But the ball came loose and went between the legs of a Music Mountain player. Grand Canyon senior Mitchell Walker ended up with the ball and he immediately scored to put his team ahead for good.
Walker scored 35 points on seven two-pointers, six three-pointers and a 3-for-6 effort at the foul line. Tempy Walker scored 14 points, which included a pair of three-pointers. And Vincent pumped in 11 points.
Those three players scored 60 of the team's 71 points.
But it was the play of two other players that drew the attention of the head coach.
Freshman Miguel Davila scored eight points and was a thorn in the side of Music Mountain with his quickness on the floor.
"Miguel played really well, whenever the ball was on the floor, he got to it," Lopez said, adding that he also had key rebounds.
Nate Bitsui, junior, hit the boards hard as well.
"Those two kids played really well for us, doing the dirty work," Lopez said.
Lopez also said sophomore Robert Stickler played well and continues to show improvement.
The previous day, Grand Canyon was up in Fredonia for the conference opener against the always-tough Lynx.
The Phantoms came into the game with the strategy of stopping Justin Johnson, Fredonia's big man underneath.
Grand Canyon did just that, holding Johnson to a mere one point.
"We did a great job on him, but we forgot about the other four," Lopez said.
Fredonia did utilize its other four players to the maximum to take a 63-50 victory. Those four all hit double figures, including 19 by senior forward Brett LeClair.
"They didn't press us at all, but played good man-to-man," Lopez said. "The LeClair kid guarded Mitch, and Mitch said he has always guarded him tough."
Still, Walker went off for 35 points in a season when surpassing the 30-point plateau has been commonplace. Walker nailed 13 field goals, four of which were three-pointers. He also went 5-for-6 at the free-throw line.
Vincent had a good game as well with 12 points on five field goals and 2-for-2 from the line. Tempy Walker hit a three-pointer to round out the scoring. Only those three players got into the scoring column for Grand Canyon.
The Phantoms found themselves in a familiar position after the first quarter — a hole. Fredonia had taken an 18-9 lead but could not stretch things out further in the second.
Grand Canyon came back to tied the game by halftime, 24-24.
The killer for the Phantoms came in the third when Fredonia went on a 20-8 run. This time, the hole was too deep.
"Nate did a good job on the kids from Fredonia," Lopez said about Bitsui. "He was giving up 3 or 4 inches. He just gets better and better."
The team was without Kendall Kachinhongva, who had been a starter early in the season.
Grand Canyon (1-1, 4-6) steps out of the conference Friday with a trip to Flagstaff to play Northland Prep. The game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start.
The Phantoms will then host conference rival St. Michael on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Grand Canyon's junior varsity team also saw action last week with a loss to Fredonia on Friday. Details were not available.
The JV Phantoms will play Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
FREDONIA 63, GRAND CANYON 50
Friday at Fredonia
Scoring by quarters:
Grand Canyon 9 15 8 18—50
Fredonia 18 6 20 19—63
Grand Canyon Scoring:
Mitchell Walker 13 5-6 35, Michael Vincent 5 2-2 12, Tempy Walker 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 7-8 50.
Three-point goals: M. Walker 4, T. Walker.
GRAND CANYON 71,
MUSIC MOUNTAIN 69
Friday at Peach Springs
Scoring by quarters:
Grand Canyon 18 15 18 20—71
Music Mountain 13 23 14 19—69
Grand Canyon Scoring:
Mitchell Walker 13 3-6 35, Michael Vincent 4 3-3 11, Richardson Tisi 1 0-0 3, Tempy Walker 5 2-2 14, Miguel Davila 4 0-0 8. Totals 27 8-11 71.
Three-point goals: M. Walker 6, T. Walker 2, Tisi.