Canyon boys roll past Pampa, stay unbeaten in 4-4A

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Canyon’s Kemper Jones looks to pass during a District 4-4A game against Pampa on Friday. [Charla Schults/ For Press Pass Sports]

PAMPA— The Canyon Eagles had a growing reputation to defend Friday night when they took an unbeaten District 4-4A record and a No. 17 state ranking into McNeely Fieldhouse against the Pampa Harvesters.

At the end of the evening, it remained undisputed that the Eagles were the team to beat three games into the district season.

Canyon broke away from Pampa after a tie at the end of the first quarter by scoring the first 10 points of the second quarter. The Harvesters never fully answered, as the Eagles soared away for a 63-41 victory which kept them unbeaten atop the district.

It served notice what the Eagles (18-5, 3-0 in district) can do when challenged in in adversarial circumstances.

“We decided to buckle down and play at the defensive end of the floor,” Canyon coach Travis Schulte said. “I felt like the things we were doing offensively were fine all night long. We had a few silly turnovers here and there and missed some shots which is just part of a basketball game. When we dial in on the defensive side of the floor, we’re going to give ourselves a chance every single night.”

Pampa (16-6, 1-2) was a distinct disadvantage with only eight players suiting up due to injury and illness, but the Harvesters seemed comfortable at home, as the two teams battled back and forth and the game was tied 15-15 at the end of the first quarter.

However, Canyon scored the first 10 points of the second quarter and took a 25-15 lead. Pampa was unable to get closer than eight points after that, as the Eagles led 32-23 at halftime.

While the Eagles are noted for their size up front with Chris Bryant and Kemper Jones, it from the perimeter where they got a lot of their offense in the first half. They hit six 3-pointers, which seemed to open things up inside after halftime, when they made only one from beyond the arc but consistently got the ball inside to wear down the Harvesters.

“It kind of went backwards tonight,” Schulte said. “Usually we try to play inside-outside, and I think (the Harvesters) know that and I think they did a good job early of taking the inside away, so you’ve just go to the outside. The kids were hitting shots. With our big guys I think it just wears teams out a little bit sometimes when they have to defend them underneath the basket.”

Guard Parker Cunningham provided Canyon’s offensive spark in the second quarter, when hit hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points. He finished with a game-high 19 points and also got in the passing lanes for some steals to set up some easy transition baskets.

“With our bigs being always as good as they are, I figured we could just kind of set them up a little bit,” Cunningham said. “(Pampa) just came crashing down on them and that kind of opened up the lane for me. Once we set the posts up everything starts rolling. After I hit that one (three) over there in the corner I felt pretty good and was just trying to keep the energy up.”

It still looked like it would be a competitive game in the first two minutes of the second half, but the Eagles began asserting themselves inside. Bryant led Canyon with six points in the third quarter as the Eagles boosted their lead to as many as 14 points.

Canyon so dominated the fourth quarter that the starters were able to sit for the final five minutes as the lead grew to over 20 points.

Bryant had 12 points for the Eagles while Jones had 10. They combined for 15 in the second half as Canyon got 12 players into the game.

Pampa, meanwhile, was slowly worn down over the last three quarters.

“We had four or five possessions with turnovers, they hit a couple of threes and it kind of snowballed,” Pampa coach Brayden Barker said. “We fought back to keep it kind of close, but (the Eagles) are big and they’re physical, especially on defense. They limit you to one shot and that’s tough when you don’t shoot well like we did in the second half.”

Cason Floyd led Pampa with 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half to keep the score from getting too far out of hand. He was the only Harvester to score from the floor in the second half until Chris St. Cyr scored with just over a minute left, well after it was decided.

Canyon 15 32 46 63

Pampa 15 23 32 41

C— Parker Cunningham 19, Chris Bryant 12, Kemper Jones 10. P— Cason Floyd 18, Hector Villanueva 8. Records: Canyon 18-5, 3-0. Pampa 16-6, 1-2.

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