The Grand Canyon High School boys basketball team held off a scrappy bunch from Ash Fork to take a 70-65 victory on homecoming night Saturday.
Travis Schmidt works inside against the St. Michael defense Thursday.
The Phantoms overcame a 42-point shooting performance from Ash Fork’s Josh Wentzloff in the victory. Grand Canyon’s Tempy Walker hit 10-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter, four on the front end of one-and-one situations.
"He just really came through for us," Grand Canyon coach Dan Lopez said of Walker. "But this is how the league will be ... with close games."
Leading by 10 points with over a minute remaining, Grand Canyon committed two turnovers and Ash Fork converted. Wentzloff made two of three free throws when he was fouled beyond the arc to bring the Spartans closer. But the Phantoms shut the door in the final seconds.
Walker scored 20 points, including a pair of three-pointers and 12-for-12 from the foul line. Richardson Tisi finished with 11 points and a trio of three-pointers. Miles Hunter added 10 points.
The Phantoms had a thriller Thursday night despite a 57-55 overtime loss to St. Michael. The contest turned out to be a game of streaks as the Phantoms led 16-11 after eight minutes.
In the second quarter, the Cardinals went on a 14-2 run in a span which saw the Phantoms score only one hoop in 6 1/2 minutes. Still, Grand Canyon trailed by only seven at the intermission.
St. Michael tried to pull away and took an 11-point lead with 2:23 left in the third quarter. Grand Canyon came back with baskets by Walker and Robert Stickler over 21 seconds.
That momentum carried over into the fourth as Grand Canyon continued to chip away at the lead. The Phantoms were making the comeback behind the strength of their post play. Besides Stickler, Kevin Beckerleg, Travis Schmidt and Ed Hazlett were contributing.
Beckerleg scored with 2:39 left in regulation to bring the Phantoms to within 47-45, but then St. Michael scored back-to-back baskets to go back up by six. Walker calmly sank a pair of three-pointers 33 seconds apart to knot the score.
After St. Michael had taken a 53-51 lead with 31 seconds left, Grand Canyon had one last shot. Hazlett scored on a followup after an offensive rebound with 10 seconds left to tie the game. The Cardinals got off a final shot by it bounced off the rim.
In overtime, the Phantoms were unable to score a field goal. Walker hit a pair of free throws 13 seconds into the extra period but that would be it. Grand Canyon had opportunities but the Cardinals came up with a few timely steals.
St. Michael ran the clock down from 28 seconds to just two seconds before the Cardinals could stop them. Schmidt came up with a steal and immediately called timeout. Going the length of the floor, Grand Canyon’s pass was intercepted and the Cardinals celebrated their win.
"We’re starting to grasp the offensive concepts," Lopez said, referring to the post game that proved to be crucial in the fourth-quarter comeback. "If we’re packing it inside, our outside shooters Richardson and Tempy will be open for their threes."
Walker scored 17 points in the loss.
Grand Canyon followed with a 74-66 win over Shonto Prep Friday. Walker had 22 points and grabbed five boards in the win. Hazlett and Schmidt each scored 10 points, Miguel Davila had six rebounds, Stickler had two steals and Walker had three assists.
The Phantoms (1-5, 5-9) host Music Mountain today at 6 p.m., play at Williams Friday at 7 p.m., at Peach Springs Music Mountain Saturday at 4:30 p.m., and at Ash Fork Monday at 5 p.m.