Peaster rolls to 72-43 win over Millsap

Feb. 2—PEASTER — The Peaster Greyhounds boys basketball team celebrated its Senior Night in front of its home fans Friday night with the Millsap Bulldogs in the gymnasium for the second of two district meetings between the two teams. In the first matchup at Millsap High School, the Greyhounds emerged victorious by a final score of 49-32.

"It means a lot, just the tradition here and always going to school here — my parents grew up here, too," Peaster senior guard Jerrin Canafax said. "It's been amazing to play here, be good every year and to compete."

In this contest, the Bulldogs got out in front with an early 5-0 lead, but Peaster battled back with 19 unanswered points. In the end, the first-quarter surge was more than enough for the Greyhounds, who walked away with a 72-43 victory and moved one step closer to securing the second seed in District 8-3A Region I.

"We always talk to our kids about respecting all of our opponents before games but not fearing anyone," Greyhounds head coach Stan Short said. "In basketball, it's a game of nights where you have to bring your A-game every single night no matter who it is. We've done a really good job in first quarters even though our guys went down 5-0 early — just missed a couple layups — they responded the right way and got a hold of it really fast."

After falling behind in the opening minutes, Greyhounds sophomore Rhett Kelley went on a personal 5-0 run to tie the score, and Canafax kept the momentum going with a driving layup he made with 4:18 left in the first. Kelley followed that up with a pullup jumper just 16 seconds later to extend the advantage to 11-5. After that, Canafax dished the ball to sophomore forward Cooper Anderson down low for a layup with 2:59 remaining in the opening quarter that forced a Millsap timeout. At that point, Peaster held a 13-5 lead that continued to grow throughout the game. Greyhounds senior Cannon Kelley made a driving layup with eight seconds to go to complete the 19-0 scoring run.

The Bulldogs continued to battle and aimed to fight back as senior Guerin Morgan nailed a triple with 7:41 left to cut the deficit to 19-8. However, Rhett Kelley responded with his own 3-pointer with 7:08 left before halftime to help keep the double-digit lead intact. Bulldogs senior forward Braylon Pugh hit a layup with 6:59 to go to keep Millsap within striking distance at 22-10, but the Greyhounds used a sizable 15-5 run to create more separation. Morgan connected from deep with 40 seconds left to pull his team within 37-18, which was the score at halftime.

Even with a large lead entering the third quarter, Peaster continued to remain aggressive and got contributions from their entire roster throughout the game, but Canafax engineered the offense well and fueled it with eight of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter, which accounted for more than half of Peaster's third-quarter point total of 15. He continued to force the issue in the fourth quarter with seven more points, but he had plenty of help from players like Kentin Morrow and Ryker Stevens, who combined for 14 points in the fourth quarter to help the 'Hounds comfortably close out the contest.

The depth on Short's bench is something he sees as a valuable strength of his team that provides the added bonus of more kids seeing the floor.

"We have so much participation in basketball here at Peaster, so I don't want to play with just six guys," Short said. "We have a system in place right now where we keep the tempo up and try to rotate in nine or 10 kids to give them all an opportunity to help the team. I do have 10 guys that can help us, and that helps as a coach — if I only had six guys that could help I wouldn't play 10. Over the last three weeks, we've been sick and haven't had all of our guys together. It's easier to play with 10 because we can keep our tempo going and our players rested, which is good for our kids and good for Peaster."

In addition to Canfax's 21-point outing, Rhett Kelley contributed with 11 points while Morrow had nine. Carter Fidler finished with seven points while Cade McCullough and Cooper Anderson each tallied five points and Townes Phillips had four. Morgan led Millsap with 15 points while senior post Tripp Moore had six.

"Good coaching and everyone buying in to become one for the same goal has been big for us," Canafax said. "We just want to get on a playoff run, we know how much work we've put in."

Peaster (19-10, 9-2) will take the court again at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Breckenridge while Millsap (5-22, 3-8) will play again at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at district-leading Brock.