Canafax's 26 points propels Peaster past Clyde

Feb. 23—MINERAL WELLS — The Peaster Greyhounds basketball team entered its area round matchup against the Clyde Bulldogs with confidence after taking down the Vernon Lions 64-51 in the bi-district round. The 'Hounds' playoff contest against the Bulldogs came Friday night at Mineral Wells High School, and standout senior guard Jerrin Canfax led the way with a 26-point outing.

"In my 23 years of coaching, I haven't had many players as special as Jerrin," Peaster head coach Stan Short said. "Most of the time, you can have a good player that is maybe a good shooter or defensive player, but you don't have many kids where you roll all of it into one guy, where he's a ball handler, a passer, a shooter, a defender, a rebounder, a hustler, a scrapper, a leader — you go down the list of positives and it rolls on the floor like Santa's list that keeps rolling and rolling. You don't get many kids like that, so you just have to enjoy your time with them, and I'm definitely enjoying having him on my team."

Coupled with an aggressive brand of defense, relentless effort and quality ball movement against a big, athletic Clyde squad, the Greyhounds muscled past the Bulldogs and emerged from the second round with a 47-36 victory.

"Everyone on the team knows their roles and what we need to do to be successful," Canafax said. "If that's driving in and kicking out to me or me driving and kicking to them, they hit shots and that gives them confidence — it brings our whole team together."

Canafax scored the game's first bucket from 3-point territory just 47 seconds into the game. After Clyde countered with a 4-0 run, Peaster sophomore Rhett Kelley sank a triple of his own at the 5:14 mark to put Peaster ahead 7-6. Later in the frame, sophomore guard Cade McCullough drilled a long ball with 51 seconds to go that stretched Peaster's first-quarter lead to 13-9, and the Greyhounds entered the second quarter with a 13-11 advantage.

The game remained close throughout the second quarter, and sophomore forward Cooper Anderson's put back layup with 50 seconds left gave Peaster the lead for good at 20-19. Before the halftime buzzer expired, McCullough wrestled the ball away from talented Clyde junior Caleb Barnett and passed the ball ahead to Canafax for the buzzer-beating layup.

After two quarters in the books, Peaster held a 24-19 lead, and the lead began to swell with an energetic third quarter from the 'Hounds.

"We knew they were going to be a little bigger and stronger, but we felt like we were deeper and could play more players than they could — we felt like we just needed to get those big boys running a little bit," Short said. "We knew the first half was going to be a war, and we were hoping our depth, speed and tempo would wear them down a little bit so that the second half was ours. We wanted to stay with that plan even if it wasn't going to work early — that's who we are and who we have to be. We put all our chips into that plan and it worked out really well for us in the second half."

Anderson scored Peaster's first second-half bucket with a layup at the 4:58 mark of the third quarter, which was also the first score by either team in the period. After that, Canafax collected a steal and scored on the other end with 3:42 left. Then, he swished a 3-pointer from the corner in front of his bench that extended the lead to double figures at 31-21 with 3:17 left. The Peaster flurry finished with a tough and-one and 3-pointer by Canafax, and a layup by Rhett Kelley after he stole the ball from a Clyde player to push the lead to 39-23 entering the fourth quarter.

Clyde could not creep any closer than 11 points in the final frame as the Greyhounds matched Clyde's ramped-up energy and limited the Bulldogs down with relentless effort on the defensive side of the ball.

"The scrap and determination are things that we are about here at Peaster. The kids absolutely love the game of basketball, and you see it when they go out on the basketball court — they put their heart and soul into every single game," Short said. "It's beautiful to watch because it's not like that everywhere, but it is like that at Peaster. It's a special place and I'm very blessed to be here and coach the kids that I have here."

Canafax scored a game-high 26 points to lead Peaster while Kelley scored seven for the 'Hounds. McCullough added five points while Anderson and senior Kentin Morrow each scored four.

"We know we're a smaller team than most teams we play, but we are also quicker and take a lot of pride in our defense," Canafax said. "If we can use our quickness and our defense turns into offense, then it helps us be a better team all together. We just have to keep our strong teamwork and continue to work hard. We just need to stay bought in and keep doing what we need to do."

Up next, the Greyhounds (23-11, 11-3) will compete in the regional quarterfinals against the City View Mustangs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bridgeport High School.