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No. 10 Canyon wins early battle with Sonora
ORANGE – Early-season tournament games are known to be sloppy and good tests for young teams.
On Friday, 10th-ranked Canyon defeated ninth-ranked Sonora, 70-69, in the semifinals of the El Modena-Canyon Kickoff Classic at El Modena High, but both teams looked like they were gearing up for the playoffs.
The Comanches (3-0) jumped out to a 25-7 lead on the heels of senior guard JoJo Ballestero and sophomore guard Nick Anderson. The two combined for 19 points in the first quarter, including a Ballestero 3-pointer from 30 feet away.
The Raiders (2-1) picked up the tempo in the second quarter. They used a match-up zone and a 2-2-1 press to create havoc on a young Comanche team that only has one senior, Ballestero. Sophomore guard Josh Rodriguez scored eight in a row for the Raiders, and just like that they were down seven.
After the Comanches finally got a basket, senior guard Jimmy Golden hit a 3-pointer that sparked another 8-0 run to put the Raiders down one. They trailed 38-35 at half.
Canyon coach Nate Harrison gave credit to Sonora, and he knows his team has things to work on.
"We are a young team that is undersized," Harrison said. "We need to work on attacking team's when they press us, but it's the first time we have seen it this year. Credit to Mike Murphy (Sonora coach), his teams are always well prepared and well coached."
In the third, the Raiders took their first lead of the evening on a Rodriguez 3-pointer halfway through the quarter, and led going into the fourth.
Up three entering the fourth, the Raiders pushed their lead to 62-57, but the Comanches rallied. After a Chandler Dignam lay up, Anderson cut the lead to one. Golden pushed the lead back to three, but Devonte Parker hit a corner three to tie the score.
With less than three minutes to play, both teams traded baskets and the Raiders had a good look but missed, and Comanches point guard Anthony Ballestero had a pretty pass to Avery Jones for a lay in and a 68-66 lead.
The Raiders had two more good looks from 3-point land, but came up short, and JoJo Ballestero made two free throws to clinch the victory.
JoJo Ballestero led Canyon with 24, while Anderson had 15 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals in the victory. Rodriguez had 23 points for Sonora.