Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer look across the valley at the high school basketball scene. They discuss Bishop Gorman's division-opening victory over Durango, but also move on to plenty of other teams.
Welcome to a new era of Canyon Springs basketball, where the faces have changed but the mentality has stayed the same.
This year’s Pioneers showed they had every bit the courage and tenacity as last year’s senior-laden state championship team in their Northeast division opener Tuesday night.
Canyon Springs rallied past the majority of conceivable adversities to beat rival Las Vegas High, 86-83, in double overtime.
“We feel a lot of responsibility following a state championship,” sophomore forward Jared Davis said. “Everyone is out to get us, but we are soldiers. We do what’s right and win games.”
Davis is one of two stars — the other is his best friend, fellow sophomore Shaquille Carr — on the overhauled Canyon Springs roster. He was the primary reason why the Pioneers survived every Wildcat onslaught to win the game on their home floor Tuesday.
Davis had a game-high 32 points, despite sitting out all but four minutes of the first half because of foul trouble. With two seconds remaining in regulation and Canyon Springs trailing 72-71, Las Vegas fouled Davis and gave him two free throws.
He missed the first one, but slid the second one in off of the rim.
“It was in my hands,” Davis said. “I never thought it would be, but I concentrated and knocked down the free throw.”
The Pioneers were down five with 1:20 remaining in the game, but four quick points from Carr — who finished with 12 points and five assists — got them back in it.
They appeared to flip fortunes in the first overtime, leading by as many as four, before Las Vegas senior Phil Dunigan came up with some heroics of his own.
Dunigan drove the length of the floor with nine seconds left and made a shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 80.
“I knew he was going to take the shot because he’s their star player,” Davis said. “But knowing I was in foul trouble, I didn’t want to reach out and touch him.”
Davis fouled out anyway 20 seconds into the second overtime. With Carr, Davis and leading rebounder Nick Scott all fouled out, the Pioneers hopes looked grim.
Everyone was still eligible for the Wildcats, including Dunigan, who had 24 points and nine assists, and Hasaan Henderson, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds.
But Canyon Springs battled and led, 84-83, with less than 10 seconds remaining. That’s when Dunigan drove to the hoop like he had all night, but Canyon Springs senior James Jones stripped the ball away to all but seal the game before getting fouled and rolling his ankle.
“Jones has been in this business before,” Canyon Springs coach Freddie Banks said. “He was a junior last year on the varsity team. He came up big for us tonight and he’s going to be OK.”
Jones had 10 points and made the biggest play of the game. The Pioneers got contributions from players up and down their roster.
Senior Kashion Tucker made what ended up being the winning basket. Senior Anthony Jones sank the final two free throws after asking to take the shots for the injured James Jones.
“We’re a young team and these sophomores don’t understand the criteria of varsity basketball yet, but they are going to learn,” Banks said. “This is a learning tool for me. They’ve all got to learn, but they played well tonight.”
Davis insisted he never felt worried. He knew Canyon Springs would make its comeback.
“I’m very proud,” Davis said. “We came through as a family. We didn’t lose composure, didn’t lose sight of what was going on. We stuck together.”