By ED PETRUSKA Casa Grande Dispatch/Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK – The shots were dropping for the Central Arizona College men's basketball team in Monday night's season opener.
The Vaqueros overwhelmed Grand Canyon University's club team 124-70 at the George Young Activity Center, scoring 67 points in the first half and 57 in the second. Central shot 57 percent from the field, going 49 for 86.
"We needed that," CAC coach Tramaine Aaron said. "The unselfishness and the energy was good to see, especially with a brand-new group."
The Vaqueros have no returners this season, but all 12 players wound up scoring. Seven reached double figures, led by 15 points apiece from Mattia Cafisi and Andrew Leonard. Cory Deveaux finished with 14 points, followed by Danny Garrick and Trever Irish with 13 each, Quincy Smith with 11 and Aulbrie Frazier with 10.
"We didn't know what to expect in a game like this," Aaron said. "It was an opportunity to learn on the fly. This is something we can build on."
The Antelopes shot 34 percent from the field, going 12 for 31 in the first half and 12 for 40 in the second.
Central never trailed and twice led by 60 points. The Vaqueros converted 26 Grand Canyon turnovers into 29 points and had 20 second-chance points.
Aaron was impressed with his team's desire to play hard-nosed basketball.
"It was good to see guys willing to take charges and diving for loose balls," he said.
A 14-1 run extended CAC's lead to 23-5 with 14:33 remaining in the first half. Irish, a 7-foot freshman, had two second-chance baskets during that stretch, one of which he converted into a three-point play.
Smith's basket with 13:27 left in the first half put the Vaqueros up 28-8, and a three-pointer by Will Osborn made it 62-32 with 59 seconds remaining before halftime.
Osborn also made three free throws with 4.2 seconds left in the half, which ended with Central holding a 67-36 lead.
Cafisi's basket capped a 23-2 surge that gave the Vaqueros a 93-43 lead with 12:56 remaining. CAC went 10 for 12 from the field during that stretch, getting three-pointers from Deveaux and Cafisi.
The Vaqueros surpassed 100 points on Frazier's layup with 10:34 left. The basket came in the midst of a 12-3 run that gave Central a 105-50 lead with 9:59 remaining.
Leonard's three-pointer with 3:25 to play extended the lead to 122-62, and they matched that 60-point advantage with 2:34 left on a second-chance basket by Cedric Cotton that made it 124-64.
Darien Guyton was Grand Canyon's leading scorer with 20 points. Jeremiah Pruitt had 12 for the Antelopes