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4A BOYS: Pioneers’ potential high

When asked about his returning starters, Canyon Springs boys basketball coach Daryl Branham chuckled.

It’s not that his team doesn’t have any, it’s just that he’s not quite sure how to quantify the number.

All seven of his returning lettermen started at one time or another last season as the Pioneers battled inconsistency.

“We had so many different starting lineups last year because of inconsistency and being so young,” Branham said. “All of them started at one time.”

That can be either a strength or a weakness as Canyon Springs enters this season. If the team learned from last season’s 19-9 campaign, it could be poised for a strong showing. If the inconsistency remains, the Pioneers won’t live up to their potential.

“We’re looking for a lot more consistency,” Branham said. “I think we’re going to get it.”

Canyon Springs was on the cusp of being a power last season. Six of the team’s nine losses came by three points or fewer.

The Pioneers opened the season with three straight wins, including victories over state runner-up Palo Verde and Sunrise Region semifinalist Foothill.

After some ups and downs in the middle of the season, Canyon Springs won its final four regular-season games before losing to Liberty in the Sunrise quarterfinals.

“They were right there all year last year, but we just weren’t sure what day they were going to show up,” Branham said.

Branham said the team still is looking for senior leadership, and one player who could provide it is Adrian Snow, a 6-foot-6-inch forward in his third varsity season.

“I’ve been starting since my sophomore year, so I feel like my senior year it’s time for me to take over and play to my potential,” Snow said.

He’ll have plenty of help. Junior guard Michael Thompson was the team’s leading scorer last season, and senior Jeremy Alexander is another athletic wing scorer.

“We think we can go to state this year, because our team is looking pretty good,” Snow said. “We’ve got a lot of returning players, too, a lot of veterans.”

Canyon Springs figures to be as quick as any team in the area, and the Pioneers hope to use that to their advantage.

“I don’t think a lot of teams can run with us, because we’ve got a real quick team,” Snow said. “A lot of us can get down the court real fast. When we get down the court, I don’t think anybody can touch us.”

Branham said he expects Southeast League teams Foothill and Coronado to contend in the Sunrise along with Northeast League rivals Las Vegas and Desert Pines.

“Hopefully we’re going to be there to compete with them,” Branham said.

Defending state champion Bishop Gorman looks like the favorite in the Southwest League, with Palo Verde the team to beat in the Northwest.

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