Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 | 10:45 p.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer glance over both the Sunrise and Sunset regional playoff brackets. Will there be any surprises or teams other than Bishop Gorman, Canyon Springs and Foothill representing Southern Nevada next week in Reno?
The Canyon Springs High basketball team has become unstoppable this season with a trio of Division-I players leading the way.
Shaquile Carr (UTEP) along with brothers Gerard and Jordan Davis (Eastern Washington) have the Pioneers one game away from winning a second straight Sunrise Regional championship, combining for 61 points today in a 99-82 semifinal victory against Valley. They play Las Vegas at 7 p.m. Friday at Green Valley for the Sunrise title and berth in next week’s state tournament.
While most games have followed a similar script, there’s another player equally important to the Canyon Springs dominance. Senior guard Chris Nelson scored 17 points against Valley, including eight in the first quarter as the Pioneers raced out to a 12-point lead, producing another quality performance some might overlook.
“That’s family. If they are getting it (credit), we all are getting it,” Nelson said of being in the shadows.
Nelson isn’t one to complain — he’s simply happy to be in the lineup, helping his team in its quest to return to the state tournament.
His surgically repaired shoulder isn’t holding up, forcing him to miss two games last month and nearly derailing his season.
“Chris brings a lot of energy,” Canyon Springs coach Freddie Banks said. “I like the kid because he has the bad shoulder, but it doesn’t stop him. He keeps playing well.”
Banks’ Canyon Springs squad resembles those legendary Rebel teams he played on in the 1980s. They play suffocating defense and race the ball up the court in transition for easy baskets.
That’s where Nelson is most valuable, having more than five steals against Valley in setting up teammates for uncontested points. Wednesday, Canyon Springs scored 106 points against Eldorado in the quarterfinals. Today, they missed the century mark by one point.
“We made it our main focus,” Nelson said of the defense effort. “We didn’t talk about offense, not once, before the game. It was defense and to take their best players out of the game so our best players could shine.”
Last year, Canyon Springs squandered a five-point lead in the state semifinals against Centennial in the final minute. This year’s team is showing no signs of slowing down — everything they do is at a quick pace, literally outracing Valley up the court most of the game.
“We aren’t going to slow the ball down. There is no use in slowing the ball down,” Banks said. “We have been doing this all year. What we do best is getting the ball up and down the court, and taking it at (the other team).”
Canyon Springs (23-4), which is riding a 12-game winning streak dating back to early January, received a game-high 26 points from Carr. Jordan Davis scored 23; his older brother Gerard had 12.
Valley briefly cut the deficit to six points in the third quarter but could get no closer. Spencer Mathis led the Vikings with 21 points, Cameron Burton scored 20 and Gerard Harden had 19.