After three straight losses to open the season and trailing Laughlin after the first quarter Saturday, the Grand Canyon High School boys basketball team decided enough was enough.
Sophomore guard Tempy Walker drives around a Rough Rock defender.
Playing Laughlin in a loser’s bracket game of the Williams Holiday Basketball Tournament, the Phantoms went on a 10-0 run to start the second quarter and take control of the game. Juan Davila and Miguel Davila hit three-pointers in that stretch, and Tempy Walker and Miles Hunter each hit hoops to knock the wind out of the opponent.
Grand Canyon never looked back in a 61-41 victory. Advancing to the fifth-place game, also played Saturday, the Phantoms whipped Flagstaff Northland Prep 62-24.
Phantoms coach Dan Lopez said the nonconference portion of the schedule is just one of three components to the season.
"This is the nonconference season and we’re not really concerned about our record, we just want to improve our game," Lopez said. "Next Friday, the conference season starts and we’re all 0-0. That’s our second season. Our third season is regionals and we’ll all be 0-0."
Grand Canyon opened the regular season on Tuesday of last week with a home contest against Williams. Playing before a packed and vocal gymnasium, the Vikings pulled away late in the second quarter en route to a 67-50 win.
The Phantoms held leads of 3-2 and 5-4 early on a three-pointer by Richardson Tisi and an offensive rebound hoop by Miguel Davila. But the Vikings were able to build a 17-10 lead by the end of the first quarter.
After Williams had gone up 24-12 in the second, the Phantoms excited the crowd with back-to-back three-pointers by Tisi. Later, the team pulled to within 29-22 on a Walker three-pointer and free throw. But the Vikings finished the half with an 8-0 run to lead 37-22 at the break.
In the second half, Williams opened with a 6-0 run to go up by 21. The teams played fairly even the rest of the way. Donald Jenkins, a 6-foot-5 senior, scored 28 points for the Vikings.
Tisi finished with 15 points for Grand Canyon, all five baskets being three-point goals.
Grand Canyon had a tough draw in Thursday’s first round of the Williams tournament in Pinon. The game was close in the first half, but the Eagles eventually pulled away for a 67-48 win.
"Against Pinon, who made the tournament finals, we had four sophomores and a senior on the floor," Lopez said. "We made some critical turnovers."
Walker scored 20 points and Tisi had 10 in the loss.
The team returned to the tournament Friday for a matchup against Rough Rock, which ended up being a 77-66 loss. Rough Rock went on a 12-0 run to start the second quarter and took a 21-point lead in at the half.
Down by 18 late in the third quarter, Grand Canyon began to comeback with an 8-0 run on baskets by Hunter and Miguel Davila. Early in the fourth, the Phantoms pulled to within nine on hoops by Walker and Bitsui.
Then after Pinon had gone up by 13, the Phantoms pulled to within 67-60. Miguel Davila hit a shot with 2:42 remaining to cut the deficit to seven. Rough Rock finished strong, however, to escape with the 11-point win.
Walker led a trio of players in double figures with 15 points. Miguel Davila scored 12 and Hunter had 10.
That put Grand Canyon in the Saturday game with Laughlin, Nev. Playing in the Ash Fork gym, the Phantoms outscored the opponent 23-9 in the second quarter to take control.
Walker finished with 18 points and Miguel Davila had 14 to lead the Phantoms. Travis Schmidt and Miguel Davila each grabbed seven rebounds. Walker had four assists.
In the finale Saturday for fifth place, the Phantoms crushed Northland Prep by 38 points. The Phantoms led 34-11 at halftime.
Lopez got a lot of playing time for the younger kids in this one with a few starters resting on the bench. Hunter and Schmidt each scored 12 points to lead in that department. On the boards, Schmidt had 12 rebounds, Danny Vincent had 10 and Ed Hazlett nine.
"They played very hard every game," Lopez said. "The things we need to fix are correctable. We have to take care of ball and rebound better."
Grand Canyon (0-0, 2-3) will host Fredonia Friday in the conference opener. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Phantoms then head to St. Michael on Saturday.