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4A BOYS: Evans does it again for Pioneer boys

For the second time in the playoffs, Trey Evans saved Canyon Springs’ season.
The reserve guard hit a runner in the lane with five seconds to go in regulation to force overtime, and the Pioneers (28-2) rallied to edge Sierra Vista 70-68 in a Class 4A boys basketball state semifinal Thursday at the Orleans Arena.
“That’s why he’s on the floor quite a bit,” Canyon Springs coach Daryl Branham said of his sixth man. “He comes up big in big games. He doesn’t stop.”
Evans had a stick-back basket as time expired to give the Pioneers a 69-68 win over Foothill in the Sunrise Region semifinals. This time he shot the team into the state title game, where the Pioneers will meet Bishop Manogue at 8 p.m. Friday.
“I’m a senior and I have to step up, because this is it for me,” Evans said. “No more games after this.”
Sierra Vista (25-7) managed to keep the ball out of Michael Thompson’s hands as time wound down. But Evans was able to take advantage.
“The play was obviously for Mike, and they have a smart coach and they doubled Mike and pressured him so he couldn’t get the ball,” Evans said. “I saw the open lane and there weren’t any second thoughts about it — I just took it.”
Sierra Vista coach Kent Johnson said his team did half of what he wanted on that final possession of regulation.
“We kept the ball out of Mike’s hands. We wanted somebody else to make that shot,” Johnson said. “But we also wanted to shut off penetration, and unfortunately we let him get inside and get a shot up in the lane. We did half of what we wanted to.”
After Evans kept the game alive, Jared Brandon helped clinch it in the extra period.
Brandon had five of his 19 points in overtime, including a three-point play with 1:15 to go that gave the Pioneers a 66-65 lead.
Sierra Vista’s Viko Noma’aea missed a 3-pointer at the other end, and Brandon hit two more free throws to push the lead to three.
Brandon was 15-for-15 from the foul line. He added six rebounds, five steals, four assists and a blocked shot.
Sierra Vista took control early. Canyon Springs was 1-for-10 from the field in the first quarter, and the Mountain Lions held a 31-21 advantage at the half.
“We really wanted to make them play slow,” said Johnson, whose team led 12-4 after one quarter. “We really thought we had the ability to play slow and fast, and they were kind of a one-speed team, that they wanted to go, go, go all the time.”
But Thompson came out of halftime on fire, scoring seven points in the first 1:23 of the third quarter to help the Pioneers pull within 34-33.
Sierra Vista struggled against the Pioneers’ press in the third quarter, turning the ball over seven times to help Canyon Springs get back into the game.
“We came out in the second half even flatter in the press break and really kind of let them get to us,” Johnson said.
Evans said being down so much at the half was an unusual experience for his team, but one they’ll learn from.
“Coming in down 10 and having to come back, we’re normally not used to that,” Evans said. “We’re normally used to having the lead and making them come back. So it was a different thing for us. It was a good experience.”
Thompson finished with 21 points, and Chris Willis had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Pioneers, who outrebounded Sierra Vista 24-13 in the second half.
Evans said the team looks forward to another shot at a state title. The Pioneers lost 69-48 to Bishop Gorman in last season’s title game.
“I think about it a lot, because Canyon Springs has never put a championship banner up,” Evans said. “So it would be a great thing to leave a legacy.”
Noma’aea led Sierra Vista with 24 points, including four 3-pointers. Maiscei Grier added 21 points, and Dallin Molina had 10 boards for the Mountain Lions.

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