Jordan Davis spent most of the basketball season playing for Canyon Springs’ junior varsity.
But the sophomore guard might have been the most valuable player of the Sunrise Region tournament.
Davis scored 27 points Friday to lead the Pioneers to an 81-74 victory over Valley in the Sunrise Region championship game at Green Valley.
“The sophomore is going to be great,” Canyon Springs coach Freddie Banks said. “He’s going to be a great kid. He’s got a lot of potential ahead of him.”
Canyon Springs (18-10) advanced to the Division I state tournament, which begins Thursday at Orleans Arena. Valley (21-9) plays Sunset Region runner-up Centennial at 6 p.m. Monday at Del Sol for the final berth at state.
Davis, who was added to the varsity team late in the regular season and didn’t appear on the team’s roster in the tournament program, scored 18 points in the first half to help keep the Pioneers in the game.
Canyon Springs trailed 37-36 at the half, and Davis then had two big fourth-quarter baskets within a span of 20 seconds to put the team ahead for good. His driving layup with 5:15 to go put Canyon Springs up 65-64, and he added a transition layup to push the lead to three moments later. Valley got no closer.
“He was already ready, it’s just that Coach waited on Jordan until the end of the season,” senior post player Tim Straghter said. “And he stepped up.”
So did Straghter. The 6-foot-6-inch Straghter had 19 points and 14 rebounds to power the Pioneers inside.
“He was very big tonight,” Banks said. “I told Tim, ‘You never know who’s in the stands watching you, son. This is your senior year, and if there’s somebody in the stands watching you, this might be your scholarship right here.’ On the boards, he did a heck of a job tonight.”
Straghter did his work against a bigger Valley front line that features 6-8 Daniel Young, 6-6 Spencer Mathis and 6-4 bruiser Eric Burrell.
“That’s what I’m supposed to do,” Straghter said. “Tonight, I stepped up like I’m supposed to. We all worked hard. It wasn’t even me; it was the whole team.”
Once the Pioneers got the slim lead, Banks chose to spread the floor and make Valley chase his guards, even after Davis fouled out with 4:51 to play.
The strategy worked, as Canyon Springs controlled the ball and made 12 of 14 fourth-quarter free throws. The Pioneers had one turnover in the second half.
“When we get the lead like that, I’m going to spread the court because my guards are so fast and they can’t stop my guards,” Banks said. “So I try to open the court up and let my guards do what they have to do as far as going to the basket or finding the open man.”
Brandon Edmond added 13 points for the Pioneers, who finished third in the Northeast League this season.
“It’s very special,” Straghter said. “We worked really hard to get here. Now we’re here, and we’ve got to keep fighting. It’s not over yet.”
Mathis and Young each had 17 points for Valley, and Young added 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.