GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Even though the Grand Canyon Phantoms Boys Basketball team played without leading scorer and post player Joey Bankston, who was serving a one game suspension for receiving two technical fouls against Seligman last weekend, they still took home a win last weekend against Ash Fork.
"Ash Fork was a much bigger team and caused us some problems early on, but we able to hit some outside shots and take advantage of our quickness to get things going after the first quarter," Head Coach David Beery said about their Dec. 16 home game.
Grand Canyon hit three consecutive three-pointers in the second quarter and eight for the game.
"Ethan Berry did a great job of rebounding and was also able to step out and hit three three pointers. Christian Knight also hit three three-point shots and had a solid all-around game," Beery said. "Senior point guard Jared Ruyle made great decisions with the ball, dishing out 6 assists while adding 15 points of his own."
Loren Talas led all scorers with 19 points and made some key plays on the offensive glass for the Phantoms and Julio Cohen led Ash Fork with 15 points.
The next day, the GC Phantoms traveled to Rock Point for an important match-up against the 6-1 Cougars. Early on, the Phantoms faced some challenges as Bankston picked up two fouls in the first 90 seconds of the game.
"Once again we were forced to play without a conventional post, but once again the boys met the challenge," Beery said. "Ethan Berry in particular was able to rebound with determination and set the tone for a very physical game."
Grand Canyon shot the ball well and held a 30-27 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, it was all Grand Canyon as Bankston returned to the game by hitting a three pointer to make the score 33-27 igniting a spark for a 21-6 advantage for the Phantoms in the quarter.
The fourth quarter was again physical, but the Phantoms were able to hold on for the win. "It was one of those games where it felt like there always two or three kids hitting the floor, we did a good job of responding to a physical game in a hostile environment," Beery said, adding it is something the team has struggled with on the road so far this season.
In a game of loose balls and several turnovers, Talas and Ruyle set the tone on defense with five steals apiece. Ruyle was able to get into the middle of the Cougars' zone defense on the dribble and provided stability and leadership in a "fast-paced" game. The Phantoms shared the scoring wealth with no player with more than 10 points.
"Christian Knight did a great job stepping in and taking some charges, he didn't always get the call and took some physical punishment, but he played the way you try and teach kids to play," Beery said.