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Canyon comeback almost too amazing to believe
ANAHEIM – Canyon trailed by 22 points going into the fourth quarter.
Yet the Canyon student section still did the “I believe that we can win” chant.
Right they were.
Canyon put together the comeback of all comebacks. The Comanches topped Lawndale in double overtime, 103-98, in the CIF-SS Division 2AA championship game Saturday at Honda Center.
It is Canyon’s second consecutive 2AA title. The Comanches (23-9) will continue their season in the CIF Southern California Regionals, which is the qualifying tournament for the CIF State championships.
Canyon senior guard Nick Anderson scored 37 points with 11 assists and four steals. Chandler Dignam scored 22 points with four 3-pointers. Justin Trias scored 18, including three clutch 3-pointers, and Kaleb Phillips scored 15.
No team comes back from 22 points in the fourth quarter – and it was a 28-point lead for Lawndale late in the third quarter – without contributions from several players.
Avery Jones took two charges late in the game, including one in the fourth quarter that negated a basket that would have given Lawndale a 16-point lead. Jake Emeterio made a 3-pointer from the corner that gave the Comanches a four-point lead with 1:59 left in the second overtime. Jordan Rohan made two free throws with 2:15 to go in the fourth quarter that tied the score for the first time since early in the first quarter.
“Everybody plays an important role on this team,” Canyon coach Nate Harrison said. “We have ultimate confidence in everybody we put on the floor.”
There are no CIF-SS records kept for biggest comeback in a championship game. But Canyon did set two CIF-SS finals records. The Comanches are the first team to break 100 points in a CIF-SS final, which were first played in 1911, and their 103 points is a record.
Lawndale’s 98 points is the most by a CIF-SS boys basketball finals losing team. The 201 combined points is the most in a championship game.
Lawndale shot 65 percent from the field. Canyon turned on the full-court pressure in the fourth quarter and forced 15 turnovers in the period. Lawndale also missed nine of its 18 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
With 1:48 left in the third quarter, Lawndale had a 67-39 lead. With 1:42 left in the fourth quarter, an Anderson basket – a twisting, left-handed, over-the-shoulder reverse layup – put Canyon on top, 79-78. With that basket, the Comanches had gone on a 40-11 run against Lawndale, a team with one 6-foot-10 senior, Chimezie Metu, going to USC and another 6-10 senior, San Diego State-bound Brodricks Jones.
Even at the bleakest moments, Harrison believed Canyon could win, and he wanted his players to believe, too.
“If we could just get the score close enough to where they (Lawndale) started feeling it a little bit,” he said.
The Anderson layup gave Canyon its first lead since it was up, 18-16, in the first quarter.
“I felt like if we played hard,”Anderson said, “and got some stops and made some shots, we could get back into this game. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Lawndale had chances to win in the final half-minute of the fourth quarter, but it kept missing free throws.
To summarize the rest here would be akin to summarizing the Civil War in a 30-second TV commercial.
Lawndale had a five-point lead in the first overtime. Canyon came back again, with a Trias 3-pointer and a Donald Schaal layup off of one of Anderson’s many fine passes providing the big points toward the end of the period.
Trias opened the second overtime with another 3, and the Comanches kept the lead from there. Emeterio made his 3-pointer to make it a four-point lead, and Anderson made four free throws in the final 1:23 to clinch the amazing win.
Lawndale took a 23-18 lead into the second quarter. The Cardinals put together a 9-0 run in the quarter to build their lead to 14 points. They had a 41-29 lead at halftime.
Canyon was outscored by 10 points in the third quarter. The Comanches scored 35 points in the fourth quarter and the rest, as they say, was history. Literally.
The Comanches believed that they could win.
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