Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 | 12:06 a.m.
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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.
But they are far from a two-man show. That’s something that was obvious Friday in the Sunrise Regional championship game.
Post player Chris Willis scored nine points for the Pioneers in the initial five minutes, and guard Marquon Webster sparked a decisive third-quarter rally in leading Canyon Springs past Eldorado 78-66 for its second straight Sunrise title.
Canyon Springs, which has 10 seasoned seniors on its roster receiving significant minutes, has only lost twice to a local opponent the past two years. It is widely considered the lone team capable of dethroning two-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman.
The Pioneers (27-2) might just get that chance. The win Friday punches Canyon Springs’ ticket to next week’s state tournament at the Orleans Arena. Gorman, which beat Canyon Springs in last year’s state finals, also advanced Friday with a victory against Sierra Vista in the Sunset title game.
It will be all hands on deck in trying to bring home the state crown.
“Everyone knows their roles. They contribute. That is huge for us,” Canyon Springs coach Daryl Branham said. “We have to have more than five guys contributing to win the game. We showed tonight that we are a little bit deeper than people think.”
Canyon Springs held a slim 33-31 halftime advantage against Eldorado before Webster scored five straight points to open the third quarter in helping Canyon Springs build its lead to 13 points. It never trailed again.
Just like Willis’ hot start to game, Webster picked the right time to make his presence felt. On Thursday, it was backup guard Trey Evans hitting a buzzer-beater to give Canyon Springs a one-point win against Foothill in the regional semifinals.
“I just tried to do the little things to make my team better,” said Willis, who finished with 19 points. “It’s all heart and who wants it more.”
Thompson, who will play next year at Boise State, had another stellar game. He finished with a team-high 22 points, including a monstrous dunk in transition over an Eldorado defender that showcased the kind of athlete Canyon Springs has. It’s why several feel the Pioneers’ speed and athleticism present matchup difficulties for anyone it faces next week.
Canyon Springs’ state semifinal opponent will not be determined until Tuesday’s play-in game between Eldorado and Sierra Vista. Regardless, it wouldn’t play Gorman until the finals.
“Losing to Gorman helped us tremendously in staying focused this year,” Thompson said. “We aren’t stopping until we win the state championship. It is a lot of pressure, but as long as we stay focused, humble and hungry, we can do it.”
Eldorado rallied to trim its deficit to three points midway through the fourth quarter, but the Sundevils couldn’t get any closer.
"This is a game of runs,” Branham said. “We made ours at the beginning and middle of the third quarter. Eldorado made theirs at the end.”
Curtis Stewart and Thomas Hooper led Eldorado with 14 points apiece. The Sundevils, whose roster is loaded with juniors and sophomores, get one last crack at reaching the state tournament Tuesday in the play-in game against Sierra Vista.
“We’ll be all right,” Eldorado coach Mike Uzan said. “We will be back. These kids are fighters. We have to battle through it. That is part of maturing. That is part of growing up.”