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Canyon escapes with victory over Esperanza
ANAHEIM – Canyon guard JoJo Ballestero dribbled to his right, glided for a layup, drew a foul, and then knocked down the free throw.
It all looked so easy.
The previous 31-and-a-half minutes were anything but for the Comanches, who eked out a 62-61 Century League boys basketball victory Friday against Esperanza at Esperanza High.
"Sometimes you get lucky," Canyon coach Nate Harrison said. "I feel we're very fortunate. We did a lot of things to lose the game early."
The Comanches made the biggest plays late, capped off by Ballestero's and-1 with 19 seconds left and his team trailing by two. Canyon (12-6, 3-0) overcame 16 missed free throws and 28.5 percent shooting from the field to remain tied with Villa Park atop the league.
Ballestero himself missed two second-half free throws following an Esperanza technical and had not made a field goal in the fourth quarter. But Canyon's lone senior starter remained option No. 1 with the game on the line.
"That's our guy," Harrison said. "We wanted the ball in his hands. You're going to love and die with him. He's going to have the ball in his hands every single game."
Esperanza forward Jarrett Brodbeck had the ball in his hands on the game's final possession, but his 17-footer fell short.
Ballestero scored a game-high 24 points, including 16 in the second half as Canyon rallied from a 20-point deficit. Guard Nick Anderson had 11 points, including nine in the second half, and made several key defensive plays late.
The Comanches trailed 50-37 late in the third quarter before going on a 13-0 run, aided by two Esperanza technicals that drew Aztecs coach Mark Hill's ire afterward.
"It's tough to lose, especially when you don't feel the officiating is fair," Hill said. "It puts us as such a disadvantage."
Esperanza made just one of its first eight shots in the fourth quarter and fell behind by five.
The Aztecs regained the lead late after consecutive 3-pointers by Brodbeck. The sophomore had a team-high 16 points, nailing four his team's 12 3-pointers. Guard Raza Rehman had 14 points.
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