Canyon Springs girls fend off fouls in victory over Wildcats

Everything seemed to be going perfectly for the Canyon Springs girls basketball team Tuesday.

The Pioneers used a 22-0 run to close the first quarter with a 23-2 lead against Las Vegas, and held the Wildcats without a field goal in the first quarter.

But as Canyon Springs coach Dorothy Kendrick looked at her bench, and watched as foul after foul was whistled against the Pioneers, she realized she might soon run out of players.

The Pioneers, who have only nine healthy players, watched their 21-point lead dwindle to six, but held on and skirted the foul trouble to collect a 78-57 home win in the Northeast League opener for both teams.

“We knew when we were in foul trouble that we had to regroup,” Kendrick said. “We had to be able to shut down their two scorers. The girls came together and executed on the court.”

Canyon Springs (6-1) used only eight players for all but the final minute of the game — and three of those eight fouled out. Another played the final 10 minutes with three fouls.

The fouls mostly came from an aggressive defense that forced 26 turnovers and held Shomari Harris and Matti Ventling — arguably Las Vegas’ top two players — to a combined 5 of 19 from the field in the first three quarters.

Even with the short bench, the Pioneers played the game at a fast tempo, scoring 32 points in transition and crashing the glass hard. Canyon Springs outrebounded Las Vegas 62-44, including an eye-popping 29 offensive rebounds.

“That’s one of the things that we have to be able to,” Kendrick said. “We have to box out, grab boards and push the ball.”

Still, Las Vegas (1-4), which didn’t make a basket until Shaleea Butler’s transition hoop 58 seconds into the second quarter, crawled back to within 39-33 on Breanna Cullen’s three-point play with 5:46 left in the third.

Mandy Chitwood hit three transition baskets, and Pearl Paulo added four free throws during a 10-1 run that pushed the Pioneers’ lead to 49-34 and removed most of the doubt.

Paulo, a senior wing forced to play more in the post due to the Pioneers’ lack of height, had 26 points and 18 rebounds.

“Pearl really stepped up,” Kendrick said.

Cherise Beynon, a sophomore wing, added 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Chitwood scored 15.

“We just go with all guards,” Kendrick said. “All of them know how to handle the ball and where to go. We don’t have height, so we have to compensate. It’s a team effort.”

Butler, a guard, finished with 23 points and nine rebounds, and Harris scored 20 for Las Vegas.

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