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Canyon Springs girls own paint, dominate Las Vegas

Alexia Thrower and Daijhan Cooks are far from typical post players. The Canyon Springs duo stand maybe 5 feet 8 inches each, if one is generous.

But on Wednesday, the lack of height was no problem at all.

Thrower, a freshman, racked up 20 points and 18 rebounds, and Cooks, a sophomore, chipped in 20 points and nine rebounds as the visiting Pioneers dominated in the paint en route to a 64-49 victory over Las Vegas in a Northeast League game.

“They have no choice but to play bigger,” Canyon Springs coach Dorothy Kendrick said. “Because we lack post players, we drill every day in practice on technique that will help them play bigger than they are. They may be 5-7 or 5-8, but they rebound like they are 6-1.”

Canyon Springs (14-5, 3-0 Northeast) made 22 field goals, 21 of them from inside the paint, and Thrower and Cooks combined to shoot 14-for-22 from the field.

And it was a nice mix of the Pioneers’ guards penetrating and drawing defenders to open up the posts and offensive rebounds that led to baskets.

“They play a big role, because it takes some of the pressure off our constant scorers,” Kendrick said.

Thrower and Cooks combined for 15 points in the first quarter as Canyon Springs opened a 17-7 lead.

The Wildcats (13-7, 1-2) never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.

Mixing gimmick zones with man-to-man defense, the Pioneers held Las Vegas to 6-for-35 shooting in the first half and kept Wildcats point guard Shomari Harris off the board until the final minute of the third quarter.

Cherise Beynon added 11 points for the Pioneers, who used a 12-0 run in the middle of the third quarter to build the lead to 43-20.

“It’s a nice start, but we know we cannot let our guard down,” Kendrick said. “It’s a different league, so we have to bring our ‘A’ game every time.”

Matti Ventling had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead Las Vegas.

Harris added 14 points despite missing her first 13 shots from the field.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at (702) 387-5230 or bdavis@reviewjournal.com.

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