The Canyon Del Oro Dorados displayed good team balance in defeating Flowing Wells, 63-53, on Jan. 13.
Johnny Black led the way with 17 points. Big men Erik Espinosa and John Jackson each added 13 points, while Jake Kimberlin scored 10 as well. These were good signs for the Dorados (5-5) in non-tournament play.
Last year’s Dorados made the playoffs, led by senior Josh Lewis, who seemed to score at least 20 points each night. Unfortunately, the team seemed so reliant on Lewis that there wasn’t much offensive development by the other players.
“We don’t have a main guy,” Black said. “If we play as a team, we can be good.”
Trapping hard and trying to force turnovers, the Caballeros forced the Dorados to make extra passes just to get the ball past mid-court. CDO was up to the challenge. In fact, the Caballeros leading scorer, Burk Butler, who led all scorers with 18 points and made his first three shots, also committed three fouls in the first quarter.
The Dorados took advantage in the second quarter as they outscored the Caballeros, 15-6, to take a 33-21 halftime lead.
The night before, the Dorados played third-ranked Amphi.
The team was beaten by more than 10 points, but they learned from the experience and transferred it into the Friday game.
“We played Amphi last night,” Black said. (Breaking the press) it doesn’t get any harder than that.”
Dorados coach Jon Kimberlin wasn’t caught off guard by the trapping defense either.
“We played a team in the Northwest Shootout tournament that used it, and Amphi is oriented to it,” Kimberlin said. “We’ve seen it and we’re accustomed to it.”
The Dorados defense made it tough on the Caballeros all night long. They held the visitors to just 27 percent shooting in the first half.
In the third quarter, the shots started falling for the Caballeros, as they made five of their eight field goal attempts, cutting CDO’s lead to 37-33.
Then, at the 3:17 mark, Black nailed a three-pointer to kick it back up to 42-33.
A possible turning point came late in the third. On an offensive foul, Espinosa got up in the air and came down hard on his foot. The injury looked like it might signal the end of the night for him.
Jake Kimberlin nailed a big three-pointer to help the Dorados to a 47-35 lead after three quarters.
Espinosa returned in the fourth and made a layup, and settled the issue once and for all with a bucket that made it 57-46 with just over two minutes left in the game.
Espinosa scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, after returning from his injury.
“I’ve seen immense improvement in Espinosa from last year to this,” said coach Kimberlin. “Espinosa is long and we’ve worked hard on his shot.”
Coach Kimberlin likes the strides that Espinosa is making, and feels that he has the ability to take his game to another level.
“The real strength of our team is the team. And we haven’t had our complete team together yet,” said Kimberlin.
Kimberlin said he expects the return of Ty Ochse off the injured reserve this week. Ochse is another player who should help the scoring balance, as he was averaging over 10 points a game.