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Orange Up, but Canyon Prevails


The Orange boys' basketball team prepared every emotional booster it could Wednesday night.

Before the Panthers' game against Canyon, the players and coaches decided they would not petition for a playoff spot unless they won both games this week.

"The playoffs are a reward for a successful season," Orange Coach Richard Bossenmeyer said. "For us that means being one of the top three [Century] league teams."

The preparations were for naught because Canyon, led by guard William Byrd's 27 points, defeated Orange, 47-41, at Orange High. The victory clinched third place and the league's final automatic playoff berth for Canyon.

Despite ankle and groin injuries that affected his movements, Byrd did most of his damage in the late-going. He scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, including eight of the Comanches' final 11 points, all of which came from the free throw line.

Just as important, Byrd blunted every second half surge by the Panthers (10-12, 3-6).

Down, 23-16, at halftime, Orange and its man-to-man defense held Canyon (18-7, 5-4) scoreless the opening 4:46 of the third quarter before Byrd dribbled through four defenders and banked in a layup. Canyon scored only five points in that stretch.

Orange's Holman Paz sank one of the Panthers' six three-pointers to pull his team within two, 25-23, but Byrd calmly drained a 15-footer, spurring an 8-0 Canyon surge to finish the quarter with a 33-23 lead.

And when Orange took its final run at Canyon, closing to within, 41-39, with 1:23 to play, Byrd made four consecutive free throws to keep the game out of reach.

"We figured to have trouble with him regardless," Bossenmeyer said.

When asked if Canyon Coach Steve Sabins might give him Friday off to finish healing, Byrd smiled and said, "That's up to Coach."

"It's never easy against them," Sabins said. "We've won three straight against them and it's never easy."

As for Orange, it was another evening of frustration in a season that has had plenty. The Panthers again shot like they were wearing boxing gloves. They were 17 for 49 from the field (35%) and six for 10 from the free-throw line.

"We've been banging our heads all year to break through our barriers, but we just can't get over that hump," Bossenmeyer said.

In other league games:

Santa Ana Valley 91, Foothill 68--Ike Harmon scored 30 points for visiting Santa Ana Valley (15-9, 8-1), ranked 10th in the county. Matt Higgins scored 27 points and John Brittingham, in his first game back since recovering from a broken hand, had 16 points and 13 assists for Foothill (5-17, 1-8).

Villa Park 79, El Modena 50--Eric Chenowith had 22 points and eight rebounds for host Villa Park (19-4, 8-1), which led, 61-39, after three quarters.

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