Canyon Basketball defeats JSerra with Brandon Benjamin’s buzzer-beater in Division 1 Quarterfinals – Orange County Register

ANAHEIM — It was the game of the game in what could become the boys basketball game of the year.

Made by perhaps the Orange County Player of the Year.

Canyon sophomore putback Brandon Benjamin hit the buzzer and defeated JSerra 58-56 in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game Tuesday at Canyon High.

Canyon (25-5) plays against Eitwanda (25-4) in the semifinals on Friday night.

By reaching the semifinals, Canyon qualified for the CIF Southern California Regional Playoffs, which follow the CIF-SS Playoffs.

The last 25 seconds went like this…

With a score of 56-56, JSerra’s Everett Bryson missed a drive. Canyon’s Connor Leonard got the rebound and quickly dribbled up front.

Benjamin, a 6-5 sophomore who plays like a 6-9 senior, was anchored with two JSerra players at the baseline three feet off the key to the right of the key and unsuccessfully attempted to push Benjamin out of the key move area which is his basketball bed.

“I was just like, ‘Give me the friggin’ ball,'” Benjamin said.

A few passes later the ball was thrown to Benjamin there.

Benjamin did his usual drop-step, turn-and-knife-through-the-double-team move to place a tight bench shot that wasn’t good, the ball bounced off the rim and Benjamin quickly jumped to save his get your right hand on the ball and put it in while the buzzer was sounding.

He finished the game with 32 points and eight rebounds. Benjamin made two 3-pointers on five tries. At the start of Tuesday’s game, Benjamin had attempted 26 3-pointers and made six of them.

Canyon senior guard Johnathan Carey had 17 points, including 5 3-pointers, all of whom were momentum shifters.

Canyon senior forward Tyler Toward scored nine points. He made two 3s in the fourth quarter. He was 1 for 5 on 3s going into Tuesday’s game.

JSerra 6-9 junior forward Sebastian Rancik led the Lions (22-9) with 15 points and eight rebounds with three blocked shots. Bryson and Aidan Fowler each had 12 points, with Bryson scoring eight clutch points in the fourth quarter.

JSerra is #2 in Orange County’s Top 25. Canyon is #5.

Benjamin explained why Canyon’s success wasn’t just down to the team’s clutch shooting and their signature rush and dogged defense.

“We grew up together,” says Benjamin. “It’s a special bond. Friends for life. Basketball brings us together and means everything.”

Benjamin had 27 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists in Canyon’s 73-64 first-round Division 1 win over Crossroads on Friday.

“And then he does that?” said Canyon coach Nate Harrison. “If he’s not the best basketball player in Orange County, I don’t know who is.”

JSerra looked like it could run away early with the game, taking a 14-5 lead. Carey then made his first 3-pointer to give Canyon the boost they needed. JSerra went into the second quarter at 16-12 and had a 28-25 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Lions had an eight-point lead. Benjamin converted a three-point play and Carey hit another 3 to keep Canyon close. JSerra’s lead was 40-36 before the fourth quarter.

Canyon took its first lead of the game 43-42 on a Carey 3 early in the fourth quarter. Canyon Basketball defeats JSerra with Brandon Benjamin’s buzzer-beater in Division 1 Quarterfinals – Orange County Register

Russell Falcon

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