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Canyon uses second half to take down Panhandle


Canyon’s Taylor Thomas goes up for a bucket against Panhandle at the Panthers Gym during a nondistrict battle Tuesday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]

PANHANDLE— It was every bit as competitive a game as someone might expect between two teams with top three rankings in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, regardless of the discrepancies in classifications Tuesday night at Panhandle.

And in the end, they both likely came out the better for it.

The Canyon girls, ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 4A, visited unbeaten Panhandle, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A. As is often the case, Canyon spoiled another ranked team’s aspirations, as the Lady Eagles took over in the second half to hand the Pantherettes their first loss, 41-32.

Canyon (7-1) had an 11-point lead late in the game which was the biggest lead for either team. After Panhandle (9-1) led by as many as six points late in the first half, the Lady Eagles took the lead for good with an 11-1 run to close the third quarter and were in control the rest of the way.

“It was just two really good teams who knew each other well,” Canyon coach Tate Lombard said. “It was a good early season matchup. It was one of those grinder type of games. I was proud of our fight, especially in the second half.”

Having beaten Class 5A power Amarillo High 60-34 three days earlier, Canyon might have had a slight hangover coming into Panhandle, although the Lady Eagles didn’t play badly in the first half.

In fact, they started the game as if they might dominate, or at least Taylor Thomas did. Thomas scored Canyon’s first eight points to give the Lady Eagles an 8-4 lead.

That foreshadowed a big night for Thomas, who was the only player in the game in double digits with 20 points. It compensated for the fact that Chloe Callahan, who torched Amarillo High for 22 points, including six 3-pointers, didn’t score a single point against Panhandle.

“(The Ettes) were scouting us and know our best players,” Thomas said. “We started out a bit slow but they were really keying on Chloe and Kenadee (Winfrey) and I came out and hit some shots. If one person has a good game then the next one will have a good game. We have a lot of depth.”

That was probably the difference in the game, even though a scoreless game by Callahan wasn’t part of the game plan.

“We didn’t want that to happen at all, but other girls stepped up and played well,” Lombard said. “That’s the strength of our team.”

After the initial burst by Thomas, Canyon struggled the remainder of the half. Panhandle took the lead late in the first quarter, and was up 20-14 after Kandin Ford’s 3-pointer en route to a 20-16 halftime lead.

Winfrey sparked Canyon to start the second half, scoring six straight points for the Lady Eagles to tie it 24-24. Thomas was fouled while scoring on a layup to convert a three-point play which gave the Lady Eagles a 27-24 lead which they never relinquished.

Canyon led 32-25 after three quarters and Panhandle got no closer than five the rest of the way. Neely Wood, who had nine points for the Lady Eagles, scored on a layup to make it 41-30, the biggest lead of the game.

“The first half we didn’t take the kind of shots we normally take but we made some of them,” Panhandle coach Rob Schmucker said. “I feel like during the fourth quarter we forced some shots we don’t normally take and missed most of them. You have to give (the Lady Eagles) credit for the way they came back.”

Ford and Mason Jones both had eight points for Panhandle.

Canyon 10 16 32 41

Panhandle 11 20 25 32

C— Taylor Thomas 20, Neely Wood 9. P— Kandin Ford 8, Mason Jones 8. Records: Canyon 7-1; Panhandle 9-1.



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