Canyon Springs’ girls basketball team didn’t start off Monday’s game with the kind of urgency you’d expect from a squad vying for first place in its league.
Fortunately for the Pioneers, the switch went on between the third and fourth quarters when coach Chris Walker needed it the most.
Dayonna Maddox scored nine of her team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, and the Pioneers used an 18-3 run in the span to pull away for a 59-42 home win over Las Vegas in a battle for first place in the Northeast League.
“I think we did a good job, but we’ve got to continue building on our success this year,” Walker said. “We’ve got playoffs coming up, so we want to be hitting our stride. We just want to continue improving as a team.
“We hold our own future. If we continue to work hard, we’ll be fine.”
Maddox also had 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals for Canyon Springs (12-3, 4-0), which found energy late to deliver the knockout blow. The Pioneers led for most of the game, but always kept it close with the Wildcats. That is, until the fourth quarter.
Canyon Springs, who led only 38-32 after three quarters, went on an 18-3 run to open the fourth and grab a 56-35 lead with 2 minutes, 54 seconds remaining. Canyon Springs’ defense, meanwhile, forced six turnovers in the quarter and held Las Vegas to just one field goal — a tough layup by Jasmine Perez with 1:52 left.
“Before that (fourth) quarter I told them, ‘Look, this is for first place,’” Walker said. “That’s all I said. …
“We switched our defense. We were (playing) man-to-man, but then we went to a 1-3-1 (zone) and that kind of threw them off. We pressured with it.”
J’hane Richardson and Jeanette Fine each had 10 points, and Aleza Bell scored nine to contribute to the balanced attack. The 5-foot-1-inch Bell also had six rebounds, seven assists and three steals for Canyon Springs.
“She’s an extension of the coach,” Walker said. “I didn’t even talk to her about offense. I told her to play defense and pressure the ball up top. And she did a good job of that.”
Armonnie Byrd had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Perez added 10 points for Las Vegas (7-18, 3-1).
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at email@example.com or 702-383-0430. Follow @af_ferguson on Twitter.