Chris Smith scored 20 points, including five free throws in the last two minutes, and Pacific High held off Canyon, 64-59, Friday in a Southern Section Division I-A boys’ basketball quarterfinal at Hart High.
DeMond Huff, a 6-foot-9 center, blocked six shots for second-seeded Pacific (21-8), four of them in the fourth quarter, and had eight points and 12 rebounds.
“They are a very good team,” Pacific Coach Scott Smith said of Canyon. “I haven’t seen a team all year play as hard as them.”
Jimmy Cox scored 22 points for Canyon (12-17) and made eight of 10 free throws.
Jerreme Suarez added 16 points for the Cowboys, including a three-point basket that pulled them to within 62-59 with nine seconds remaining.
“It’s been a nice ride,” Canyon Coach David Humphries said. “No one expected us to go this far.”
Canyon, which finished last in the Foothill League and was considered the division’s Cinderella team, was awarded an at-large postseason bid and upset Loyola and Hart en route to the quarterfinals.
“We thought we were on our way to another upset,” Suarez said. “We’ve been underdogs all season long and we felt all the pressure was on them.”
Justin Orefice, Canyon’s leading scorer this season, scored all nine of his points in the first half. He went cold in the third quarter, when the Cowboys were outscored, 25-8.
“They stretched their defenses on us and didn’t give Justin any good looks,” Suarez said.
Canyon guard Everett Bryson, assigned to cover Pirate three-point shooter Bobby Tossetti, fouled out with 1:11 remaining and the Cowboys trailing, 59-51. However, Tossetti finished with two points.
Canyon trailed, 5-0, after 2 1/2 minutes, then scored 14 unanswered points in the next 3:21. The Cowboys led, 14-8, after one quarter. The lead changed hands six times in the second quarter but Canyon held a 29-25 halftime advantage.
Mike Hall opened the fourth quarter by drilling a three-point shot from the corner to give Pacific its biggest lead, 48-37.
“We knew better than to judge [Canyon] by its record,” Pacific Coach Smith said. “They were really motivated and we’re lucky to get out of here with a win.”