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Antelope Valley Avoids Upset, Not Its Angry Coach

Division I-A: Davenport helps Antelopes rally for 63-53 victory over Canyon with stern halftime talk.


LANCASTER — Coach April Davenport wore her traditional black pants and red sweater to Antelope Valley High's Southern Section Division I-A girls' basketball playoff opener on Thursday night.

By halftime, her face matched the ensemble perfectly.

"She had a big red face and was yelling, 'You're better than that,' " guard Crystal McCutcheon said after the Antelopes rallied to oust Canyon, 63-53.

This was a game Antelope Valley (25-3) was supposed to win handily.

The two-time Golden League champions, ranked No. 4 in the region by The Times, saw an 18-6 first-quarter lead turn into a 33-30 halftime deficit against the fifth-place Foothill League team.

To Canyon's credit, it battled Antelope Valley valiantly and looked far better than its 15-12 record would indicate.

Courtney Koenig scored 10 of her 15 points during the Cowboys' second-quarter surge. Katie Holdaway had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Ashley Palmer added 10 points.

But Canyon couldn't match the Antelopes' speed and athleticism.

"They can jump--a lot of them can jump," Canyon Coach Paul Broneer said. "And they've got a lot of weapons."

Most of them misfired.

Antelope Valley was 26 for 73 from the field, but took 19 more shots than the Cowboys thanks to a defense that forced 28 turnovers.

Jacquana Young had 21 points and six rebounds for Antelope Valley, which won its 11th consecutive game with the usual scoring balance.

McCutcheon, a flashy All-Valley guard who has committed to Pepperdine, battled a cold and fever to finish with 11 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Kristal Fox had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Shaquina Mosely added 10 points for the Antelopes.

Antelope Valley jumped to a 12-point lead in the first quarter by forcing 10 turnovers.

But Davenport called off an effective full-court press to protect Sheena Crenshaw, who was in early foul trouble, and the ailing McCutcheon and Young.

That allowed Canyon to climb back into the game.

"It probably wasn't the best decision," Davenport said. "But when you pull it off, you have to maintain the intensity, and we didn't."

The Antelopes play Corona, a 60-21 winner over West Valley, in a second-round game on Saturday.

The winner of that game would probably play top-seeded Buena, the nation's No. 1-ranked team by USA Today, on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

After the first half against Canyon, Davenport is relieved to be advancing to the second round.

"I told them [at halftime] that I wasn't ready to be done [with the season] and that they'd be sorry if they lost to this team because they are better than that," Davenport said.

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