2/28/2012 10:36:00 AM Phantoms knocked out in third round 41-29 loss to Desert Christian ends season that exceeded expectations
Jared Ruyle, Ethan Berry and the rest of the Grand Canyon Phantoms boys basketball team make their way through a crowd of well wishers on their way to their third round match-up against the Desert Christian Eagles (Tucson, Ariz.). The Phantoms ended their post season run with a 41-29 loss. See Page 3B for a post-season wrap-up.
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The Grand Canyon Phantoms ended their season on a high note, making their way to the third round of the state tournament.
The Phantoms post-season enede with a 41-29 loss to the Desert Christian Eagles Feb. 23.
Head Coach Dave Beery said the team's focus throughout the season was to compete in post-season play.
"After we knew we were in position to accomplish that goal, we really wanted to focus on winning at least one game at state," he said. "After getting into our bracket, the goal really shifted to winning a second game at state. So, I definitely think we reached our expectations, and I think we exceeded most people's expectations. It's difficult to put very high expectations on a young team, but our kids really responded and grew throughout the year."
Beery said at the season's outset his team's first response was to fold and self-destruct in the face of stiff competition.
"The boys reached the point where we were competing and making plays when things weren't going our way," he said.
Beery said the Phantom's game against Pima in the round of 16 exemplified the Phantom's heart.
"Joey Bankston fouled out with about three minutes left and our opponents fans were celebrating like the game was over," he said. "We had been in that situation before, and I knew we could handle it. Senior Jared Ruyle stepped up and hit some huge free throws. We handled their pressure better than we had all game, and got some stops on defense to win the game."
Beery credits Coach Greg Walker for keeping the players positive and loose when things didn't go their way this season. He said another important factor in the team's success this season was fan support at home and on the road.
"With a sometimes grueling (three games per week) schedule this year, our fans traveled great and sometimes outnumbered and out-cheered the home team's fans," he said.
The Phantoms will lose seniors Ruyle and Dustin Curley giving underclassmen players an opportunity to step up and carry this season's momentum into the next.
"We'll return four starters and over 80 percent of our scoring offense," Beery said. "If Bankston can continue to develop his post game, we'll be really tough to guard because we can surround him with four other guys who are a threat from outside and cutting to the basket. The decision of how much work they put into the off-season will determine their success next year."
The Phantoms will have opportunities to work on skills and play organized games during the summer season. Beery added that in order to remain successful, the entire team will need to work together to improve on skills and improve as a team.