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Parker leads Canyon past Brea Olinda
ANAHEIM — Canyon boys basketball coach Nate Harrison made his way to the newest Comanche, Jim Kunau, and told him how excited he was to have the decorated football coach in the athletic program.
“I love how hard you guys play,” a gracious Kunau replied. “I know what practice must be like.”
So does Brea Olinda.
The Comanches grinded out a 65-60 victory against the Wildcats in a Century League game Thursday, extending the celebration that started with a halftime introduction for the recently hired Kunau.
“I’m glad I didn’t mess up that exciting night,” Harrison said.
Canyon had its defense and junior guard Devonte Parker to thank for that. Parker scored a career-high 23 points, his five 3-pointers pulling the Comanches out of an offensive funk.
Canyon (9-3, 2-0) has won four in a row, all without point guard Anthony Ballestero, who broke his arm last week and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.
The situation looked bleak in the first half against the Wildcats (6-3, 0-1), who built a 10-point lead in their league opener while baiting Comanches leading scorer JoJo Ballestero into foul trouble.
Parker assumed the senior sharpshooter’s role in the offense and nailed a pair of 3-pointers, as Canyon cut the deficit to two by halftime. In the third quarter, Parker scored 13 of his team’s 25 points while Canyon went ahead by six. JoJo Ballestero finished with 13 points, including a 3-pointer to beat the third-quarter horn.
“We’ve struggled the last five games without Anthony Ballestero,” Harrison said. “He’s so important to what we do. We just kind of fumbled around. We went through a stretch where we couldn’t score. Devonte Parker came up humongous.”
The Comanches’ defense took care of the rest. Brea Olinda guard Michael Turner had 23 points and center Vilius Vysniauskas had 15, but the two were each held to a single field goal in the final quarter.
“We’re going to try to beat you every possession,” Harrison said. “When we needed stops, we got stops. We played really hard defensively. I though that was the difference, really.”