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Dignam comes up big for Canyon
LOS ALAMITOS – When Canyon's Chandler Dignam takes the basketball court on most nights, the 6-foot-1 sophomore is about average size.
The caveat is he's the tallest starter for the Comanches, and almost always shorter than the frontcourt players he's guarding. But with heart, will and skill, size is sometimes nothing but a number.
Dignam collected 16 points and eight rebounds to help Canyon rally for a 70-62 victory against Los Alamitos on Friday night.
"Our 6-1 center, he's tough," Canyon coach Nate Harrison said. "We ask him night after night to guard 6-9, 6-8, 6-7. I thought he was a little excited early and missed some layups he normally makes. But he does a good job of defending bigger kids and rebounding bigger than he is.
"He's an important piece to our success."
Dignam and No. 8 Canyon (4-1), coming off a loss to Orange Lutheran in the El Modena Tournament finals, had their hands full against the defending Sunset League champions in their home gym.
The two teams traded leads until Canyon pulled away with a 13-3 run late in the fourth quarter. Good ball movement and spacing led to easy baskets for Dignam, and guards Anthony Ballestero, Nick Anderson and Devonte Parker during the spurt.
"We're always going to struggle rebounding the ball a little bit and guarding the post," said Harrison, whose team fell behind by five points shortly after halftime. "We just needed to play harder. As small as we are, we've got to compete more. We did a better job in the second half."
Canyon guard JoJo Ballestero scored a game-high 18 points. His brother, Anthony, had 16 points and six assists.
Los Alamitos (2-2) controlled the boards and the paint for most of three quarters but couldn't get its shots to fall late. Guard Khalid Washington led the Griffins with 17 points and guard Wes Mitter had 14 points.
It was the first meeting in four years for the perennial playoff teams, which are separated by one division.
“We knew we’d have a tough game,” Harrsion said. “We did enough. It wasn’t great, but we did enough. I’m happy to come out with a win.”