Desert Pines boys basketball coach Mike Uzan stressed two things to his team at halftime Wednesday.
Rebounding and free-throw shooting.
The Jaguars took note.
After being outrebounded and shooting poorly in the first half, sixth-ranked Desert Pines made big improvements in both categories and collected a 70-62 road win at fourth-ranked Canyon Springs.
“They do probably the best in the city as far as crashing the boards,” said Uzan. “They’re athletes. They’re really good, and I’m sure that’s stressed in their program. We tried our best to put bodies on them, but those guys are strong, big and athletic.”
The Jaguars (11-6, 5-0 Northeast) held a 35-33 halftime lead despite being outrebounded 26-16 and making only 8 of 16 free throws.
That all changed in the second half.
Dayshawn Wiley, a 6-foot-3-inch guard, grabbed eight rebounds in the third quarter as the Jaguars limited Canyon Springs’ second chances and expanded the lead to as much as 58-47 on Darnell Washington’s monster dunk off an alley-oop from Wiley.
Wiley’s effort allowed Desert Pines to hold a 25-22 rebounding edge in the second half.
“That’s what Dayshawn does,” Uzan said. “He’s a slasher, he’s a rebounder, he’s a defender. He’s a player.”
Canyon Springs (10-3, 4-1) battled back to within 62-60 on Mervin Soares’ drive with 1:42 to play, but Desert Pines’ Jamir Stephens made two free throws with 1:22 to go, and Wiley stole the ball and fed Milos Uzan for a transition basket to give the Jaguars some cushion.
Desert Pines was 14-for-14 from the free-throw line in the second half, including an 8-for-8 effort in the fourth quarter.
“We blew it in the first half. Our free throws weren’t so good in the first half,” Mike Uzan said. “We talked about that in the locker room and told them we needed to make free throws count.”
Milos Uzan and Cimarron Conriquez each had 17 points, and Washington scored 13 for Desert Pines. Wiley finished with 14 rebounds.
Tommie Anderson led Canyon Springs with 17 points, and Soares and Alexander Spaight each scored 13.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at email@example.com or 702-383-4602.