Darryl Gaynor didn’t have a point in the first half on Thursday night. But the junior guard made his presence felt down the stretch.
Gaynor scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, including six in a 21-second stretch to give Palo Verde’s boys basketball team the lead, as the Panthers defeated visiting Coronado, 83-73.
“I knew we needed to get the (win), so I just pulled it out,” Gaynor said. “I started making good plays, cut down on my turnovers and shots started falling.”
With the game tied at 66, Gaynor got a steal and drove for a layup and was fouled with 3:11 to play.
He completed the three-point play to give the Panthers (1-0) the lead for good.
Palo Verde forced a turnover on the next possession, as well, and Gaynor drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the team some cushion.
“The biggest key is defense,” said Gaynor, who finished with 20 points. “Defense wins games. It was our defense that picked it up real good. They were a good team, but we pulled it out.”
Palo Verde used a 10-2 run to start the second quarter to take a 33-25 lead, and the Panthers led 44-35 with 7:19 to go in the third quarter.
But turnovers got the best of them in the quarter, and Coronado (0-2) took advantage. The Cougars turned 11 Palo Verde turnovers into 15 third-quarter points as they stormed back into the game.
Justice Augmon went on a personal 8-0 run, hitting a 3-pointer from the right corner to cut the lead to 48-46 with 4:17 to go in the quarter. All eight of those points followed Palo Verde turnovers.
“Hopefully we can take care of those turnovers to not let those leads erase,” Palo Verde coach Paul Sanchez said. “But that’s fixable stuff. We can correct that, and we’ll get better as each game goes on.”
Senior point guard Eris Winder led the way with 22 points for the Panthers. He and Gaynor played significant roles last season, but much of the rest of the team lacks experience.
“A lot of teams are coming at me and Eris,” Gaynor said. “Eris is a good guard, a real good guard. They’re especially coming at him more than me. And then they’re going to come at me, they’re going to think I’m a younger Eris. We’ve just got to keep our head up, keep our poise and keep our team together.”
Joey Randazzo scored 11 points and Travis Gondrezick 10 for Palo Verde.
Augmon and Jordan Willis each had 21 points to pace Coronado. Charlie Teixeira added 17 points and six assists for the Cougars, but fouled out with 3:11 to play.
“We have a handful of veterans, and a lot of young guys, so we’re constantly teaching and learning,” Sanchez said. “Each game and each day we’ll get better.”