Pearl Paulo and Cherise Beynon share a strong bond on the basketball court.
Their chemistry was evident when Canyon Springs needed it most Tuesday, as the duo combined to score 13 of the Pioneers’ 19 fourth-quarter points in a 57-54 comeback win at Las Vegas High.
The victory kept fourth-ranked Canyon Springs (13-1, 8-0) in sole possession of first place in the Northeast League.
The Pioneers trailed 53-52 with 1:37 left when Beynon tossed an inbounds pass from the baseline to Paulo. Paulo then dished the ball back to Beynon under the hoop for a quick layup and a 54-53 lead.
“It’s a matter of them playing together and knowing where each other are on the court,” Pioneers coach Dorothy Kendrick said. “It’s just about teamwork and them working together.”
Beynon made 1 of 2 free throws with 34 seconds left to put Canyon Springs up 55-53, and ninth-ranked Las Vegas (10-6, 6-2) had a chance to tie the game when Matti Ventling drove the baseline and was fouled going up for a shot with 14.1 seconds left.
But Ventling made 1 of 2 free throws, and Daijhan Cooks scored in transition on Canyon Springs’ ensuing possession to seal the win.
Paulo, a senior forward, led the Pioneers with 23 points and eight rebounds.
Junior guard Mandy Chitwood scored 11 points for Canyon Springs, and Beynon, a sophomore wing, had 10 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Beynon scored six points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key to bring Canyon Springs within 52-50.
“She’s a leader. She knows exactly what to do,” Kendrick said. “If she wasn’t scoring, she was at least dishing the ball and getting rebounds, and she’s that type of player.
“When we needed her, she was able to make some crucial moves for us, and it was very beneficial to us at the end.”
Junior guard Shomari Harris nearly willed Las Vegas to the win by scoring 19 of her game-high 24 points in the second half, including a jumper with less than three minutes left that put the Wildcats up 52-47.
Ventling had nine points and 10 rebounds for Las Vegas, and Shaleea Butler scored eight points.
Tonnisha Thomas supplied five points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Wildcats.