Saugus High's basketball team brought along enough fans Friday night to pack half of the Canyon gym.
In fact, for most of the game it was difficult to tell which was the home team.
"Well, it's for first place and Canyon and Saugus don't like each other," Saugus Coach John Clark said before the game.
But by the time the fourth quarter came around, Saugus couldn't find enough bodies to contain Canyon guard Greg Paskwietz. Paskwietz, the Cowboys' leading scorer this season, scored 15 of his game-high 25 points in the final period to propel Canyon (15-5, 4-1) to a 61-54 win over Saugus.
The Centurions (13-7, 4-1) had been undefeated in the Golden League going into the game. The prospect of Canyon dropping its second league game would have made things tough for Coach Greg Hayes' team. The Cowboys are trying to repeat as league champions.
So, was Hayes concerned?
"To be honest, no," Hayes said. "All week we didn't talk about Saugus or first place. We talked about Canyon playing to the best of its ability. If we'd lost, we wouldn't have been out of it."
Canyon trailed, 12-10, after the first quarter, but in the second period, the Cowboys ripped off 12 straight points to take a 30-22 lead. Guard Larry Allbritton scored eight points in the second quarter.
With the help of Greg Weber and Jeff Dorst, Saugus put together its own run of nine points to take a brief 39-38 lead late in the third quarter. But when Paskwietz started scoring from all over, including nine points from the foul line, Canyon had assured itself of a tie for first place.
"I wasn't shooting good in the first three quarters," Paskwietz said. "But I've been shooting good in practice. In the fourth quarter, I just got hot."
Said Hayes: "He was our leader out there. He ran the show."
Allbritton helped Paskwietz run the show with 14 points and center Stuart Sayre added eight points and nine rebounds.
For Saugus, forward Rusty Morse led with 14 points. Dorst and Weber had eight each.
Hayes may not have been too concerned before the game, but he still realized its significance.
"We wanted it," Hayes said. "We wanted to get back in first place."