The message Canton coach Hunter Rhodes had for his team was simple.

The message Canton coach Hunter Rhodes had for his team was simple.


(To play with) energy and focus.


The Little Giants had plenty of both Thursday night and the end results proved to be a 58-50 Mid-Illini Conference road victory at Washington.


It was the first win for the Little Giants and for Rhodes as a head coach as CHS improved to 1-6 overall, 1-4 in Mid-Illini play. Washington dropped to 3-6 overall, 1-3 in league contests.


“I was super-happy for the kids honestly,” said Rhodes of recording the victory. “It was a great feeling. As a coach, you’re trying to help the players as much as possible.”


And while Rhodes was happy for the kids, he also felt a sense of relief.


“Now I feel like the monkey is off my back,” he said.


Canton trailed 6-0 early, but bounced back to pull even at 6-all by the end of the initial eight minutes.


The Panthers scored 20 points in the second quarter, eight by Gus Lucas. But Canton countered with 18 points, including a trio of treys by Garrett Brant that kept the Little Giants close. CHS would trail 26-24 at the break.


The game turned in the third period as Brant scored 11 points in the quarter, including three more 3s. T.J. Myers added five points, Caleb Miller a 3 and Kaleb Owens a basket as the Little Giants outscored Washington 21-9 in taking a 45-35 lead into the final eight minutes.


“The third quarter when we went up 10 was really big for us,” said Rhodes.


Canton held on in the final minutes as Jake Smith scored six points, while Owens added a pair of baskets, and Myers another 3 to hold off the Panthers.


Brant finished with a game-high 22 points for Canton that included six 3-pointers. Myers added 12 points, while Owens and Smith chipped in eight points each for the Little Giants.


Miller and Aden Emery had three points each and Luke Miller two in rounding out the CHS scoring.


Trey Passmore and Doug Cannon also played, but did not score for CHS.


The Little Giants finished with 11 3-pointers and 11 2-pointers.


Lucas topped Washington with 19 points, 14 in the opening half, while Rickey Woods added 11 for the Panthers.


The sophomore contest saw Canton drop to 0-4 overall, 0-4 in Mid-Illini Conference play, losing 57-28.


The Little Giants trailed 21-8 after the opening quarter and 37-11 at the half. The Panthers enjoyed a 50-17 lead entering the final eight minutes.


Nick Oldfield topped Canton with nine points. Lukas Goforth added six points, followed by Turner Plumer (five), Jack Churchill (five), Trace Rhodes (two) and Jake Miller (one).


Andrew Coker led Washington with 18 points.


The CHS varsity will next play Wednesday at the 73rd annual Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament at Western Hall on the campus of Western Illinois University in Macomb. The Little Giants will play Monmouth-Roseville in the 1 p.m. contest.


The Canton sophomores will also be busy in tournament action over the holidays. The Little Giants will face East Peoria at 10:30 a.m. and Peoria Notre Dame at 2 p.m. December 28 at the East Peoria Round Robin Tournament.


The Little Giants will then conclude tournament action December 29 against Limestone at 10 a.m.