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October 1, 2014

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state basketball championships:

Canyon Springs guard Donald Anderson leads Pioneers into state tourney

Team could face ultimate test against defending two-time champion Bishop Gorman

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Leila Navidi

Thomas Hooper, left, of Eldorado and Donald Anderson of Canyon Springs battle for the ball during the Sunrise Regional boys basketball championships at Foothill High School in Henderson Friday, February 18, 2011.

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Can anyone beat Gorman at state?

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer preview this weekend's state basketball tournament. They disagree on whether Eldorado or Sierra Vista will win the play-in game, but see the same outcome regardless.

2011 Sunrise Boys Basketball Championships

Canyon Springs celebrates their win over Eldorado for the Sunrise Regional boys basketball championships at Foothill High School in Henderson Friday, February 18, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Donald Anderson isn’t sure if he’s the quickest player on the Canyon Springs High basketball team.

It just appears to be that way this postseason when the senior guard is presenting match-up problems for the opposition.

Canyon Springs, which opens play Thursday at the Orleans Arena in the four-team state tournament, creates several scoring opportunities after forcing turnovers with its suffocation full-court press. Anderson is the unquestioned leader of the effort, averaging a team-best 3.1 steals per game.

“Our press is all in their face. It is hectic,” Anderson said. “It is everywhere. A lot of the kids can’t handle the pressure nowadays.”

The 6-foot, 175-pound Anderson has proven to be more than capable under pressure, too.

Last year, the Pioneers lost 69-48 to two-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman in the championship game. But Anderson had one of the best games of his career, finishing with a team-high 16 points, four assists and two steals.

More importantly, he played stingy defense on the Gaels’ Johnathan Loyd all night, limiting the state player of the year to nine points and five assists in partially taking him out of his game.

It’s been the same story this winter.

Anderson has a tendency to force other players into mistakes, especially when Canyon Springs in playing its pressure defense.

“The main thing I try to do is watch the eyes of the person with the ball,” Anderson said. “Those eyes tell me where the ball is going. I jump the pass a lot and get a lot of deflections.”

Offensively, Anderson is averaging 8.9 points and a team-best 6.2 assists per game while leading Canyon Springs to a 26-2 record and a second consecutive Sunrise Regional title.

“He really has quick hands,” Canyon Springs coach Daryl Branham said. “His on-ball intensity overwhelms people. He’s energetic. He really gets a lot of people going. That is where it starts for us is with him, both offensively and defensively.”

It will take more than one player to dethrone Gorman — or the other three teams at the event. Canyon Springs’ opponent will be determined Tuesday after the play-in game between Eldorado and Sierra Vista. If Eldorado wins, Canyon Springs plays Northern Region champion Bishop Manogue. If Sierra Vista wins, it would play Canyon Springs.

Both Gorman and Canyon Springs would need to win Thursday to set up the anticipated rematch on Friday.

Regardless of which team it plays, Canyon Springs will have the most experience on the floor. The Pioneers have 10 seniors on their roster, with all of its key contributors receiving quality minutes in last year’s title game.

Gorman only led 26-22 at halftime against Canyon Springs but scored 29 points in the third quarter in opening a 20-point lead and never looking back. It's a setback that gives Canyon Springs valuable experience this winter.

“When you get to the final four in state, there isn’t much room for error,” Branham said.

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  1. Canes4life: The field was just set. Canyon Springs and Sierra Vista play at 4:40 p.m. Thursday at the Orleans Arena. Gorman plays Bishop Manogue of Reno at 8.