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Tue, Oct. 20

Joe City, Fredonia<br>upend Phantom boys

GC VILLAGE — As the Grand Canyon High School boys basketball team slowly walked off the court Saturday night after a 14-point homecoming loss to Fredonia, first-year coach Dan Lopez knew his club will need to play better in the coming days.

The Phantoms appeared to be peaking early in the week with a 77-64 victory over Ash Fork. But Grand Canyon then struggled at Joseph City on Friday with a 76-45 loss and followed with the 65-51 loss to the Lynx.

Nate Bitsui and the rest of the team found it tough inside against Fredonia.

"Since the Ash Fork game, our intensity level hasn't been there," Lopez said. "For Seligman and regionals, we have to be at peak performance."

The Phantoms may have received their biggest setbacks with the loss of two key players.

Freshman Miles Hunter, who was becoming a physical force inside, was injured midway through the fourth quarter in the Ash Fork game. Hunter reinjured an ankle that had bothered him early in the season.

The team is also without starter Kendall Kachinhongva, taking away one of the team's scoring threats.

After the Phantoms nearly knocked off the then-unbeaten Wildcats earlier in the season, Joseph City was taking no chances in last week's rematch. The home team jumped out to an 18-6 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.

"They always had three guys on Mitch (Walker) and their intensity level was higher than when they played here," Lopez said. "They played well and real hard."

Mitchell Walker had a frustrating evening with the triple-teaming against him. He still scored 16 points. Tempy Walker finished with 12 points, all four of his baskets coming on three-pointers, and Richardson Tisi added 11.

The following night, the Phantoms knew they needed to beat Fredonia for a more favorable seeding in the regional tournament. The Lynx had the same thing in mind and controlled things from the start.

"Fredonia runs the man offense very well, they shot 53 percent from the floor," Lopez said. "We made a little run at them in the third. In the second half, we started playing defense."

Grand Canyon's offense could do little right in the first half while getting into a 13-point hole. Mitchell Walker was the lone threat with 17 of the team's 22 points.

The Lynx opened the game with a 7-0 run as Grand Canyon did not score its first basket until Mitchell Walker hit a hoop at the 4:16 mark. But the Phantoms appeared to be getting things together late in the opening quarter.

After Fredonia had blocked a shot, Mitchell Walker grabbed the rebound, kicked the ball out to Tempy Walker, who then buried a three-pointer. The basket trimmed Fredonia's lead to 12-10.

But that was as close as the Phantoms would get. The Lynx took over in the second quarter and then held on in the second half to win.

Mitchell Walker finished with 38 points.

Interestingly, as a team, the Phantoms shot 14-for-14 at the free-throw line in the last two games.

Grand Canyon (6-7, 10-13) will host Seligman Friday at 7 p.m. The team may play Saturday at home vs. Shonto Prep, but the matchup had not been confirmed by deadline.



Friday at Joseph City

Scoring by quarters:

Grand Canyon 6 17 11 11—45

Joseph City 18 14 24 20—76

Grand Canyon Scoring:

Brian Skeet 1 0-0 2, Tempy Walker 4 0-0 12, Michael Vincent 0 2-2 2, Mitchell Walker 5 5-5 16, Richardson Tisi 4 0-0 11, Robert Stickler 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 7-7 45.

Three-point goals: T. Walker 4, Tisi 3, M. Walker.


Saturday at Grand Canyon

Scoring by quarters:

Fredonia 15 20 14 16—65

Grand Canyon 10 12 13 16—51

Grand Canyon Scoring:

Mitchell Walker 13 7-7 38, Tempy Walker 1 0-0 3, Michael Vincent 4 0-0 8, Nate Bitsui 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 7-7 51.

Three-point goals: M. Walker 5, T. Walker.

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