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April 18, 2014

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Canyon Springs advances on buzzer beater, will face Eldorado in Sunrise finals

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Canyon Springs basketball players Jared Brandon and D.J. Anderson.

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Playoff bracket breakdown

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer discuss their way through the Sunrise and Sunset playoff brackets. They disagree on the early rounds, but come to a consensus on who will advance to the state championship.

Canyon Springs High guard Trey Evans says it best when describing the play that led to his game-winning shot Thursday in the Sunrise Regional semifinals.

“It is not the size of the dog in the fight. It is the size of the fight in the dog,” said Evans, a 5-foot-11 senior. “I took that mentality with me.”

With Canyon Springs trailing Foothill by one point and time quickly ticking off the clock, Evans out-jumped a pair of Foothill defenders in traffic to grab an offensive rebound with about three seconds remaining. He immediately banked the ball off the backboard and through the basket for the winning points in a dramatic 69-68 victory.

Players from the Canyon Springs bench stormed the court in celebration, racing over to congratulate Evans for saving the season.

Evans shouldn’t have been put in that spot.

Canyon Springs, the reigning regional champions, have only lost once to a local opponent in the last two years. With a roster of 10 seasoned seniors, the Pioneers are widely considered the lone threat to challenge two-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman for the state crown.

But after allowing Foothill to erase a six-point fourth-quarter deficit, the Pioneers are fortunate to still be alive in the postseason. They play Eldorado at 7 p.m. Friday in the Sunrise title game.

“Hopefully this will serve as a little bit of a wake up,” Canyon Springs coach Daryl Branham said. “They have to understand that you can’t take any plays off. People are going to play hard against us. They aren’t going to (lie) down. Obviously, from the end of the game, Trey didn’t take a play off.”

Michael Thompson had a game-high 21 points for Canyon Springs, including hitting a 3-pointer with 4:33 remaining to give Canyon Springs a 62-56 lead. After struggling to gain a substantial lead all game, it appeared Canyon Springs was finally going to have its way down the stretch.

After all, Canyon Springs had beaten Foothill in December by 35 points, and it only seemed a matter of time before the domination continued in the rematch.

But Foothill didn’t back down, using a pair of 3-pointers from Brannon Cresanto in staying close until the final minute. Zach Ginter hit two free throws with 17.4 seconds to play to give Foothill a 68-67 lead.

Canyon Springs called a play for Thompson — its star who will play at Boise State next year — to drive to the basket and create a scoring opportunity. But Thompson’s running jumper rimmed out, with Evans muscling his way to reach above the crowd to grab the rebound.

“Trey has a nose for the ball and Trey can score,” Branham said. “He’s not necessarily a great shooter, but he can score. He finds ways to score. And no two points were bigger than (at the end of the game).”

Jared Brandon had 19 points for Canyon Springs and Evans finished with nine. For Foothill, Augy French led the way with 19 points, including six straight to open the game.

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