Canyon Springs sophomore Alexander Spaight spent most of the season as an understudy to star guard Kevin Legardy.
But Spaight has proven he’s ready for more of a starring role as the Pioneers head to the Class 4A state basketball tournament in Reno.
The 6-foot-1-inch guard averaged 27.0 points in three games in helping Canyon Springs to the Sunrise Region title and is expected to play a key role for the Pioneers (24-2) when they meet Bishop Manogue (23-5) in the state semifinals at 4:45 p.m. Thursday at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center.
“He’s playing great,” Legardy said. “If I’m having a bad game, he’s having a good game. And if he’s having a bad game, I’m having a good game. It takes a lot of pressure off of everybody, a lot of pressure off of me so I won’t have to do all the scoring. He’s a big part of our team, because he scores, he plays defense, he gets our guys going.”
Legardy, who averages 25.2 points, still is the main man for Canyon Springs, but Spaight has proven to be more than a capable No. 2 option. Legardy was limited to 18 points in the Sunrise Region title game, but Spaight scored 29 to lead Canyon Springs to a 101-89 win over Coronado.
“He came a long way,” Canyon Springs coach Freddie Banks said. “Now he really sees what it takes to be a basketball player at the high school level. Right now he’s scoring, averaging 25 points a game, which I need, because I can’t get anyone else to do what they’re supposed to do.”
The Pioneers entered the season with plenty of question marks. They went 21-3 in the 2016-17 season, but lost in the Sunrise semifinals with a team that had 11 seniors.
“I just had some rage in me to come back (this) year stronger and accomplish this, get into state,” Legardy said. “It’s a great feeling, and this is what we’ve all been working hard for all season.”
Spaight and some of his teammates have improved quickly to replace the graduated seniors. Spaight is second on the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game and leads the team in steals (2.2 ppg).
“He didn’t play last year, so his game is developing more as we play with him,” senior forward De’Shawn Keperling said. “He’s come a long way.”
Watching Legardy play certainly can’t hurt. The 6-1 senior has scored 30 or more points 10 times this season, including two 40-point games.
“Watching Kevin play, that man is just a bucket,” Spaight said. “He scores when he wants to score; he’s just unstoppable. Learning from him, it’s just great.”
Banks said the entire team has learned from Legardy, who has garnered the attention of college coaches with his outstanding senior season.
“Right now, Kevin has really put a lot of folks under his wing, because they see the scouts coming to see him and different things,” Banks said. “(Spaight is) learning a lot, and hopefully next year he’ll know that everything is on his shoulders and bring up the next guy beside him.”
But first, there’s the matter of the state tournament.
“I feel like we’re going to do good,” Spaight said. “I feel like we’re going to take it all. Knowing this group, we’re going to get there. If we don’t play around, we’re going to get a job done.”
Class 4A boys state basketball tournament
At Lawlor Events Center, UNR
Bishop Manogue (23-5) vs. Canyon Springs (24-2), 4:45 p.m.
Bishop Gorman (27-4) vs. Spanish Springs (24-5), 8:15 p.m.
Championship, 8:10 p.m.