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Hoops at midway

Big Foothill games on the horizon in basketball, soccer

Posted: January 27, 2010 10:19 p.m.
Updated: January 28, 2010 4:30 a.m.
Canyon's Brooke LeMar races to the basket against West Ranch on Tuesday. Canyon's Brooke LeMar races to the basket against West Ranch on Tuesday.
Canyon's Brooke LeMar races to the basket against West Ranch on Tuesday.

Now we can start to assess things.

At least in basketball.

Due to the rains of last week, we’re still a game behind in boys and girls soccer.

But in Foothill League boys and girls basketball, every team has played each other once.

We’ll start in boys basketball, where up until Tuesday night, Canyon was the best team in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Then West Ranch goes out and upsets the Cowboys 57-52.

So what does it mean?

Did West Ranch just have one of those nights where everything was going in? After all, the Wildcats made seven 3-pointers on Tuesday, hitting nearly 50 percent of them, and were blown out by Valencia 77-45 on Jan. 15.

Or are the Wildcats a legitimate force in the Foothill that’s actually coming into its own after the Canyon win and a two-point loss to league-favorite Golden Valley?

“I absolutely think so,” said West Ranch head coach Sean LeGaux. “If you look at our first half, we lost on a buzzer-beater to Golden Valley. Our first game at Saugus, we shot terribly. (Tuesday) night’s key was rebounding.”

West Ranch recently brought up 6-foot-5-inch freshman center Ako Kaluna, which has allowed big-scoring swingman Martin Flowers and Evan Caruthers to return to their natural positions.

It gives LeGaux a lot of confidence going forward and the thinking that West Ranch’s best games are ahead.

As for Canyon, the Cowboys showed that a mix of strength, timely shooting and in-your-face defense made them the league’s best team through four games.

The Cowboys may be the deepest team in the Foothill, with five players averaging at least 7.3 points per game.

But they meet Golden Valley on Friday night on the Grizzlies’ home floor.

Valencia, meanwhile, needs to show that last week was just a bad week.

The Vikings lost to Golden Valley and Canyon. The 75-68 loss to Golden Valley on Jan. 19 snapped a 10-game winning streak.

Valencia is getting contributions from other players, but there is no clear second scoring option for the Vikings.

Lonnie Jackson is averaging 24 points per game and is shooting 48 percent from the field.

In games where Jackson has scored 20 or more points, the Vikings are 13-2. The team is 4-0 when he scores 30 or more points.

Against Golden Valley and Canyon, he scored 13 and 18 points, respectively, and shot a combined 32 percent from the field.

Golden Valley has the luxury of having a couple of scoring options, but it also goes the way of its star player.

In games where senior point guard Trevor Wiseman scores 20 or more points, the Grizzlies are 8-0.

Wiseman is contributing 19.7 points per game.

Nonetheless, swingman Taylor Statham has 18 double-digit scoring games.

Saugus has been a strange team so far.

It beat Hart by 22 points, then lost its next game by 26 points to Valencia.

The truth is, Saugus just hasn’t shot the ball well at 37-percent overall.

Yet the Cents do have some offensive balance, with six players scoring at least 6.8 points per game.

Hart, meanwhile, has established that it’s a year away, and this particular group has given Indians head coach Tom Kelly more pride than any other team in recent memory because of the way they’ve stuck together and battled.

Round two begins Friday.

Girls basketball
Three teams sit at 4-1 — Canyon, Valencia and West Ranch.

All three of those teams were expected to be at or near the top.

Yet West Ranch, based on it having never challenged for a league title prior to this season, seems to be the surprise team.

Now, the Wildcats are a legitimate contender with an experienced group of players — Erin Ruiz, Kaylyn Tarver, Brittni Walker and Tori Wilson.

It has given them an edge.

Canyon also has a pair of players in Brooke LeMar and Adriana Dent whose experience and ability have kept the Cowboys in the title picture.

Yet Valencia is the only team with a trio of players scoring in double figures — Lauren Spargo, Jenny Lentz and Lindsey Hill.

Who’s the favorite going forward?

Valencia owns a win against Canyon, Canyon beat West Ranch and West Ranch defeated Valencia this season.

Take your pick.

Hart sits at 2-3, but it was in every game against the top three.

The Indians’ 13-point loss to West Ranch is the team’s biggest Foothill deficit.

But that was a game Hart was leading 16-4 after one quarter.

The Indians have a number of solid pieces and should challenge for a league title in 2011.

Saugus is in a similar boat at 1-4 with six players on the roster who are sophomores or younger.

Sophomore Megan Dawe has stood out, averaging 9.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

Golden Valley’s girls are struggling.

It’s just not at the varsity level, as all three levels have been getting blown out.

If there’s a bright spot, it’s Teresa Ohaya, who is averaging 11.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

There might even be a brighter spot as the Grizzlies are very young.

Boys soccer
The match of the season takes place on Monday.

Canyon and Valencia are both 4-0.

Confident Canyon expected to be here. Valencia will say the same.

But coming into the season, it was the Cowboys who most people would pick to be in this spot, due to a torrid preleague start and solid a crop of returning players and new additions.

Valencia, though, has managed to stay in the hunt with a team that’s solid from the defensive to the offensive end.

Canyon defeated West Ranch 3-0 on Tuesday, while Valencia beat Saugus 2-1.

Both first-place teams are favored to win their Friday matchups.

If that happens, it might be the first time two 5-0 teams have met in the Foothill League ever.

Canyon and Valencia haven’t met this year due to a rainout.

Now they’ll meet twice in the second half of the season.

The rest of the league is pretty cloudy.

Saugus had a strong preleague season, but has fallen off in league.

West Ranch, which defeated Saugus 2-0 this season, controls its own destiny when it comes to the third and final playoff spot from the Foothill League.

Golden Valley sits at 1-3-1, but in years past it has been in the opposite position only to collapse down the stretch.

A couple of wins could turn the Grizzlies’ season around.

The Grizzlies did beat Hart 5-2 on Tuesday.

Hart is winless through four games and has struggled, which is an odd position — not for the Hart soccer team, but to see three of the four winter teams struggle so much.

Girls soccer
Hart defeated Golden Valley 2-0 on Tuesday to move to 3-1 in the Foothill League.

Katie Trevino and Kelli Goff both netted goals.

A lot of attention before the season was on defending CIF-Southern Section Division II-champion Saugus, but Hart is tied atop the Foothill standings with the Centurions.

The teams are scheduled to meet for the first time this season on Monday.

Golden Valley head coach Jose Leon said despite his team’s 0-4-1 record, he still has hope.

“I am very confident,” he said.

The Grizzlies will likely be without Natalie Lagunas for the rest of the season, as she is on Mexico’s Under-20 Women’s National team.

Jackee Sanchez and Rachel Hoeft have picked up the slack.

It wasn’t about Saugus picking up any slack on Tuesday after losing to Canyon 2-1 on Monday.

In fact, Saugus head coach Natalie Helgeson said Saugus played better soccer against Canyon than it did in its 1-0 win over Valencia on Tuesday.

Against Valencia, Brittanie Sakajian scored the game’s lone goal off an assist from Jamie Molacek.

Canyon and West Ranch tied 1-1 on Tuesday.



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