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Pioneers recover late, sneak past Vikings

With just less than five minutes left in Tuesday’s game, the Canyon Springs girls basketball team looked a bit lost.

The Pioneers had just allowed Valley to score two consecutive transition baskets, trailed by nine points and appeared headed for their first Northeast League loss in three years.

Or, maybe, they were just setting up for a big finish.

Alexia Thrower’s basket inside with 1:37 left gave the Pioneers the lead for good, and Canyon Springs overcame shaky free-throw shooting for a 62-59 home win over the Vikings.

“It’s the heart of these girls,” Canyon Springs coach Dorothy Kendrick said. “They know that they are the underdog. They just work hard.”

Kennedy Wharton and Eimainei Thomas-Palmer scored two consecutive baskets in transition to give Valley a 53-44 lead with 4:46 to play.

But a quick 10-2 run brought the Pioneers (15-2, 5-0 Northeast) back into the game. Thrower’s drive into the paint with 2:44 left made the score 55-54.

The teams traded baskets before Wharton was whistled for her fourth foul, an offensive one, with 2:13 to go. Cherise Beynon cashed in from inside on the other end to put the Pioneers up 58-57 with 2:05 left.

“We knew they were in foul trouble, and we just had to attack them,” Kendrick said.

Gabrielle Cabanero’s drive into the paint with 1:50 left gave the Vikings (12-4, 3-2) their final lead, and Thrower quickly countered from inside to put Canyon Springs ahead 60-59.

Wharton was whistled for another offensive foul with 1:25 left, and Valley got only two more shots in the game — both 3-pointers by Cabanero, the second a 40-footer with 5.8 seconds left.

Canyon Springs made just 2 of 8 free throws in the final 26 seconds but held on.

Thrower made nine of her final 10 shots from the field and finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Pioneers.

“Just when she thinks she has given enough, she finds a way to give more,” Kendrick said. “She’s just a sophomore. She has much more to look forward to.”

Daijhan Cooks had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Beynon, who sat out the first quarter after missing practice Monday because of a family emergency, added 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Canyon Springs.

Cabanero made three 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 21 points to lead Valley, which made just four of its first 30 field-goal attempts.

Wharton scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half, and Thomas-Palmer had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Vikings.

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

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