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Steele Canyon shows some mettle

02/01/2013, 10:45pm PST
By Bill Dickens, Special to the U-T

Cougars earn chance to win Grossmont Hills League title with sweep of final games.

Steele Canyon’s Daniel King drives to the basket in the Cougars’ Grossmont Hills League win over West Hills. King, a 6-foot-5 senior, finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

— When the Grossmont Hills League boys basketball race was a topic of conversation early in the season, few prognosticators mentioned Steele Canyon as a serious contender for the crown.

“I’ve been here a long time,” said Steele Canyon senior Casey Balikian. “This is my last chance and I’d love to go out a winner.”

Balikian scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out two assists to help the Cougars roll over visiting West Hills 66-44 on Friday night.

The victory balanced the Cougars’ league record at 3-3 and left them tied for second place with West Hills and Helix, two games behind front-running Grossmont with four games to play.

“Everybody knows how even this league is so I think if we win out we can take the title,” said Balikian. “Playing in front of our home crowd like we did tonight seems to make us a better team.”

On the remaining schedule, Steele Canyon will play Granite Hills and Grossmont on its home court.

“I’ve always had confidence in this team,” Balikian added. “But sometimes we don’t take advantage of things like the height edge we had over West Hills.”

The Cougars (14-10) dominated in the paint against the smaller Wolf Pack (13-7). Daniel King, a 6-foot-5 senior, chipped in 18 points and eight rebounds, while 6-6 Dylan Hamlett controlled the boards with 13 rebounds and two blocked shots for Steele Canyon.

“”We’re kind of an inside-out team,” said King. “We have guys that can hit the three and we do a pretty decent job of pounding the boards.”

West Hills trailed only 31-30 at intermission, but the Cougars went on a 17-2 run to open the second half, and the issue was all but decided.

“I don’t think there’s one guy on our team that doesn’t believe that we can still win league,” said King.

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