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4A BOYS: Canyon Springs quietly streaking into semifinals

Bishop Gorman’s boys basketball team has received plenty of attention this season, with good reason. The Gaels have a 28-2 record and a No. 13 national ranking by USA Today.
But there’s another area team with a fine resume, Canyon Springs, that hopes to make noise when the Class 4A state tournament begins Thursday at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center.
Canyon Springs (25-3), which won the Sunrise Region, has won its last 15 games and hasn’t lost to a Nevada team all season. The Pioneers play Northern runner-up McQueen (16-10) in the semifinals at 4:40 p.m. Thursday. Gorman plays Northern champ Bishop Manogue (25-4) at 8 in the other semi. The championship is at 8 p.m. Friday.
“We’ve always talked about (reaching state),” Canyon Springs senior swingman Jeremy Alexander said. “Now we’ve achieved it, so we’ve got to go out and take care of business.”
The Pioneers haven’t lost since Dec. 31 in a tournament against Mountain View (Ariz.), but they have been especially good lately.
They dominated the Sunrise tournament with three victories by average of 17.7 points, including 76-60 over Foothill in the final.
“The kids have taken on a different attitude, especially when the playoffs started,” Canyon Springs coach Daryl Branham said. “For whatever reason, they really flipped the switch and started playing with a lot of energy and a lot of heart.”
That energy usually manifests itself on defense, where the Pioneers harass opponents with their speed and length.
“Defense, that’s our No. 1 thing,” senior guard Curtis Stuckey said.
That defense triggers the Pioneers’ offense, converting turnovers and missed shots into fast-break opportunities.
“When we defend well and rebound well, we get the ball down the floor,” Branham said. “If a team misses a basket, everybody can pretty much push the ball down the floor.”
Everybody, that is, except for 6-foot-6-inch senior post player Adrian Snow. But that’s only because Snow will be streaking to the other end, trying to beat opposing big men down the floor.
“Their bigs better be ready to run,” Branham said. “There’s not many kids as far as the post position who can keep up with Adrian.”
Snow’s speed might be key against a tall McQueen team. Four of the Lancers’ top five scorers stand between 6-3 and 6-5, and that doesn’t count 6-8 junior Philip Smith.
“McQueen, I feel like we’ve just got to run them,” Snow said. “They’re a slower team than us. If we run them, I think we can get a ‘W.’ ”
That win could set up a matchup against Gorman, favored by most to repeat as state champion.
“Everybody picks Gorman every year,” Stuckey said. “It’s time for a change.”

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