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Sat, March 28

Phantoms falter late<br>in loss to St. Michael

After holding a three- to five-point lead most of the game, the Grand Canyon High School boys basketball team looked like they might pull off a win at always-tough St. Michael Saturday night. But in the final two minutes, Phantom miscues took their toll and the home-team Cardinals rallied for a 55-50 victory.

Grand Canyon’s Ed Hazlett tries to get the ball inside vs. Fredonia.

Grand Canyon saw the lead slip away after missing on the front end of one-and-one free-throw opportunities three times and then turning the ball over on a key possession with 48 seconds left. The Cardinals, meanwhile, were hitting their free throws.

"We played really well, they were pressuring us and we broke the press," Grand Canyon coach Dan Lopez said. "Up until the final minute, we had nine turnovers and then we panicked. We missed free throws, turned the ball over and let them back in it."

Grand Canyon thought it may have tied the game 50-50 in the final seconds on a three-pointer, but traveling was called and it turned out to be another key turnover.

There was a big disparity at the free-throw line in the game. St. Michael made 25-of-46 from the line while Grand Canyon was 6-for-14. The Cardinals were awarded 32 more free-throw attempts.

Lopez said the big difference in free throws was puzzling because the Phantoms were playing a combination man-zone defense while the Cardinals were going with a full-court man-to-man pressure defense. The latter usually translates into more fouls, but not in Saturday’s game.

In another strange occurrence, Miles Hunter set a school record by drawing seven fouls in the game, Lopez said. Players are supposed to be ejected after the fifth foul, but the official scorer was off by two.

Grand Canyon trailed by four points after the first quarter but had a big second quarter to take a 33-29 lead in at the half. The Phantoms extended the lead to five points heading into the fourth. In those final eight minutes, Grand Canyon struggled on offense and couldn’t buy a break.

Tempy Walker, sophomore, led the Phantoms with 23 points on nine field goals, four of which were three-pointers. Richardson Tisi scored 11 points, which included two three-pointers.

The previous night, Fredonia turned a fairly close game into a double-digit win by downing the Phantoms, 63-38.

"Fredonia’s offense is like the old wishbone," Lopez said. "We worked all week on defending the screen inside. In the first half, we did a good job and in the second half, they just kept getting inside."

The Lynx took a 10-point lead early in second quarter on a three-point goal and later upped the advantage to 14 at the 1:54 mark.

Grand Canyon’s offense struggled late in the first and most of the second. In that stretch, Grand Canyon scored just two points in a time period of eight minutes, the equivalent of a full quarter.

The Phantoms did come alive in the final 1:24 to cut the deficit down to eight by halftime. Hunter scored on an assist by Walker, Skeet hit a hoop and then Ed Hazlett scored after grabbing an offensive rebound on a missed free throw.

The two teams traded baskets early in the third, then Fredonia began to pull away. By the end of the quarter, the Lynx held a 17-point lead.

In the fourth, the Phantoms struggled to score just six points. Grand Canyon shot 22 percent from the free-throw line in the game.

Walker led Phantom scorers with 17 points. The other 21 points were scored by eight different players.

Grand Canyon (0-2, 2-5) will get back into conference play this week with a Friday road trip to Seligman and a Saturday game at Joseph City. Lopez expects both games to be tough.

"The kids know we can beat St. Michael when they come here," Lopez said about the conference. "Other than Joe City, this regional tournament will be really exciting."

A game scheduled for Thursday at home vs. St. Michael was moved to Jan. 9. The school requested the move because of final exams.

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