Kelan Williams had a lot to be happy with after his Canyon del Oro boys basketball team cruised past Desert View 73-33 on the first day of the Northwest Desert Classic.
In the midst of all that, the Dorados’ second-year coach also had plenty of reasons to be concerned Thursday.
“I saw a lot of things we need to tighten up,” Williams said. “I liked the way we looked defensively; that’s what I wanted to accomplish. As far as our offense, we still have moments where we’re stagnant.”
The Dorados (7-5) jumped out to an 11-0 lead against the Jaguars and never trailed on the way to their fourth straight win. Sophomore P.J. Peña hit three three-pointers and scored a game-high 16 points to lead the way, and senior Jordan Closs-Lopez added 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half.
CDO also played Chandler Seton Catholic on Thursday night and will play Mountain View at 6:20 tonight. The tournament, which is hosted by both CDO and Pusch Ridge Christian, is comprised of 10 boys teams and eight girls teams and runs through Saturday evening.
The biggest reason Williams was pleased Thursday on his home court was because of his new amoeba defense, a hybrid between zone and man-to-man coverage, which the Dorados have known for just a week but hadn’t used in a game.
It worked out well though, forcing close to 25 turnovers and limiting Desert View to 33 points, nearly half its average of 61.6.
“One of the reasons it makes a big difference is because of all the teammates talking to each other. I feel like it’s a big intimidating factor for the offense,” said senior captain Ty Ochse, who scored six points in the win. “When everyone on the defense is talking, making noise and rotating, the offense becomes frantic and doesn’t know what to do.”
This marked the third meeting between CDO and Desert View this year. They scrimmaged each other and played in the Safeway Classic at Sierra Vista Buena last month as the Dorados also won there, 88-50.
Second-year Jaguars coach Rudy Gallego was caught off guard by the change in defense and said his team couldn’t have come out any more flat than it did as it fell to 4-8 this year.
“They kind of trapped once we got into the three-point line area,” Gallego said. “It was effective for them, but I don’t know if their defense was that great or if we helped them out by dribbling into those situations.
“It wasn’t something we expected, and our scouting report didn’t have that in there.”
Desert View went 7-18 last year. Gallego is happy to be more than halfway to matching the team’s win total from his first season, but he’s hoping to finish with at least 10 wins this year and continue building from there.
Meanwhile, Williams and the Dorados are hoping to find some consistency and momentum to take into the second half of the season. Their defensive change could be the key to a big run in the state tournament in February.
“Offense wins games, and defense wins championships,” Ochse said. “So the better we can play defense, the more often we’re going to be on offense and score.”