It was inevitable, it seemed, that Canyon High would fall to Quartz Hill on Tuesday night, 72-65.
Canyon came into the Rebel gym boasting an unbeaten mark in the tough-as-nails Golden League.
So it stood to reason that the Cowboys were due for a fall. And in the first quarter, the Cowboys fell and fell and fell, falling behind by the brow-raising margin of 17-0.
Just as inevitably, Canyon roared back. The Cowboys have proved a resilient bunch this year and were unbeaten in league play for good reason.
So it also stood to reason that Canyon clawed its way to a 60-59 lead with 3 minutes 20 seconds to play.
But Quartz Hill can't be left out of this equation. Were it not for a last-second basket last Friday night by Palmdale, the Rebels and star guard Chris Young, too, would be unbeaten in league play.
So it stood to reason that, when faced with this latest challenge, Young and the Rebels rose to meet it head-on.
After Jason Wolter canned a three-point shot to give Canyon its one-point lead, Young responded with a three-point basket of his own to put Quartz Hill ahead, 62-60. Young then grabbed defensive rebounds on the next two Canyon misses to set up Darrell Marshall jump shots on an 8-0 Rebel run that extended the lead to 67-60 and finally put an end to the crazy notion that, somehow, Canyon would come back to win. "Well, I expect anybody in this league to come back," Quartz Hill Coach Don Moore said. "As tough as it is."
Young scored a team-high 20 points, 16 in the second half, to stave off Canyon in what turned out to be a must-win game for Quartz Hill (14-4, 3-1).
Canyon (11-7, 3-1) had to come back in spite of a sub-par night for leading scorer Jermaine Nixon, who scored a season-low eight points, and rallied behind junior forward Joe Ferguson, who scored a game-high 21 points, including 10 in the second quarter when Canyon outscored Quartz Hill, 22-12.
"We got real lackadaisical," Moore said of the second-quarter collapse, which featured five consecutive turnovers. "We cranked up a lot of 'me' basketball."
The Cowboys were ready for the opportunity, overcoming a frightening display of poor shooting (two of 14 from the field) in the first quarter to make themselves heard.
"We missed some easy shots and let it affect us," Canyon Coach Greg Hayes said. "It was our offense that affected our defense but obviously we recovered, so that wasn't the story."
The story was that, down the stretch, Quartz Hill refused to let itself fall to 2-2 in league play. Young and guard Lee Allen each made two free throws with less than a minute to play.
And when it became apparent that somebody besides Young would have to chip in, guard Danny Prince responded with 12 second-half points (17 overall) and senior forward Denny Klein grabbed 11 rebounds. "It was a must win for us," Moore said. "Puts the screws back on the league."
It took Young's overall game to finally put the screws into Canyon's coffin. He added nine rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Young also had to fend off the in-your-jersey defense of Canyon's Lance Moore, who harried him in the first half and held Young to just four points. But when Quartz Hill needed him, Young was there.