- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Rarely is a defending champion so thoroughly dismantled. Then again, Canyon has a history of making some of the best teams in Texas look out of their league at the state tournament.

Freshman guard Angel Hayden scored 18 points, including all nine for her team in the third quarter, and Canyon rolled over defending Class 4A champion Georgetown 41-22 in the state semifinals Thursday night.

The victory was just another step in what could be yet another title march for a program that collects trophies at a breathtaking pace. Canyon (33-4) and coach Je Lombard advance to Saturday’s state final with a chance to win their eighth championship since 2000

Lombard has 15 career titles overall at Canyon and Nazareth. His Canyon teams are 15-0 at the state tournament since 2000, their last tournament loss coming in the 1999 state final.

“Our expectations for our team and our program are so high,” Lombard said. “Our kids expect to win … that legacy is there.”

Madison Parker, the only player left from Canyon’s 2011 state title team, scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds. She scored nine points in the second quarter when Canyon opened a double-digit lead that was never threatened.

“We have this opportunity this year, so why not take it?” Parker said. “Coach Lombard has preached and preached about being relentless.”

The semifinal set up as a clash of two of the state’s best coaches. Lombard and Georgetown’s Rhonda Farney both have more than 1,000 career victories.

But Farney’s chance to upend Lombard in Austin faded with a poor shooting night and a 10-point first half in which Georgetown went nearly 13 minutes without a field goal. Until the final minutes, Georgetown flirted with a new state record for fewest points in a state tournament game.

“The shots we did have, we were missing at point-blank range,” Farney said. “If we had a decent offensive night, it might have been a closer game.”

Lombard expected it to be low-scoring but close as both teams play a patient, methodical style of offense that relies on precision passing to find open shots.

“It didn’t feel easy,” Lombard said. “I thought it would be a score in the 30s.”

Lombard’s teams rarely rely on freshmen, but have found a plucky newcomer in Hayden. She never seemed rattled by a bad shooting start when she missed five of her first six shots.

Angel has been a godsend for us,” Lombard said. “She’s going to make some bad plays along with good plays. She has a knack for getting open.”

Hayden closed the first quarter with two straight baskets, and a steal and layup by Taylor Jones gave Canyon an 8-5 lead. Parker picked up the scoring in the second quarter and her 3-point play pushed Canyon to a 10-point lead.

Georgetown (31-7), which hadn’t made a basket since the 5-minute mark of the first quarter, finally broke its scoring drought with Haley Frias’ fast-break layup with 2 seconds left in the first half.

Canyon kept things slow and picked its shots with Lombard’s typical clinic of quick ball-movement and back-door passes. Canyon scored 34 points in the paint for the game and rarely had to settle for jump shots.

Georgetown’s only chance to rally came early in the third when Kendrick Clark cut Canyon’s lead to 21-15 with a putback layup off a missed free throw. But Hayden closed the period with seven consecutive points, including a 3-point play with 17 seconds left that made it 28-15 and put the game out of reach.

After her early misses, including four missed 3-pointers, Hayden picked apart Georgetown with drives to the basket and backside rebounds for easy layups.

“That’s who we wanted to take the shot,” Farney said. “I didn’t want it to be from point-blank range.”



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