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Canyon overcomes shortage of players to beat Villa Park

ANAHEIM – Canyon boys basketball coach Nate Harrison’s pregame discussion of the Comanches roster was repetitive.

Looking at the roster Harrison said, “He’s out … he’s out … he’s out …”

A couple of Canyon players could not play in their Crestview League home game Friday against Villa Park because of recent concussions. One Comanche was unavailable because of an ankle injury and another because of a knee injury. One of the players out because of concussion protocol was senior guard Liam Woodrum, an All-Crestview League first-team selection last season.

Canyon needed contributions from a variety of players and got them in a 72-64 overtime win over the Spartans.

Sophomore forward Tyler Howard led Canyon with 18 points. Coby Jones, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, scored 13 points with 17 rebounds as he battled inside against Villa Park’s 6-9 Garrett Andre.

Canyon senior guard Michael Ramirez made seven free throws in overtime and did a fine job guarding Villa Park’s quick and sharp-shooting senior guard Damien Parker. Parker scored 17 points but had to shoot 6 for 22 from the floor to get there.

“I’m so proud of all of our guys,” said Canyon coach Nate Harrison. “Liam Woodrum is by far our best player. He goes out and it’s just ‘next man up’ for us.”

Junior guard Dominic Parker, Damien’s younger brother, scored a game-high 20 points. Andre scored 11 points with six blocked shots.

Canyon, No. 14 in the Orange County top 25, is 12-4 overall. The Comanches are 12-1 since starting the season 0-3 with losses against formidable foes like Damien and Orange Lutheran.

They are tied with Foothill for first place in the four-team Crestview League with a 3-1 league record. Canyon’s league loss was to Foothill. No. 13 Villa Park is 12-3 overall and 2-2 in league.

Canyon beat Villa Park 61-46 in a Crestview League game April 17. Canyon beat Villa Park in their two league games last season and won the league championship with a 6-0 league record. Canyon and Villa Park were league co-champions in the 2018-19 season, and Canyon was league champion in 2017-18.

The Comanches had a five-point lead with 2:26 to go in the fourth quarter. After Andre made a free throw to trim the Villa Park deficit to four points Dominic Parker made a 3-pointer to knock the Canyon lead down to 56-55 with 1:39 remaining. Damien Parker followed with a 3 to give Villa Park a 58-56 lead.

Jones muscled his way for a short bank shot to tie it 58-58 with 36 seconds left. Damien Parker then missed a 3-point shot and the game went to overtime.

The Comanches scored the first seven points of the extra period – Jones on another inside bank shot, Howard scored inside, too, on a fine pass from Connor Leonard and Howard made three free throws for a 65-58 lead. Villa Park finally got OT points on 3 by Damien Parker with 35 seconds remaining. Ramirez made seven free throws in the final 30 seconds to secure the win for Canyon.

Canyon’s next game is a nonleague home game Tuesday against Yorba Linda. Villa Park’s next game is nonleague game Friday at El Dorado.

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