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Vikes clear up race

Valencia knocks off fellow league-title competitor to retain first-place standing

Posted: February 9, 2010 11:02 p.m.
Updated: February 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.
Valencia's Tanner Tredick goes up for a basket against Canyon on Tuesday in the Vikings' 50-41 win. Valencia's Tanner Tredick goes up for a basket against Canyon on Tuesday in the Vikings' 50-41 win.
Valencia's Tanner Tredick goes up for a basket against Canyon on Tuesday in the Vikings' 50-41 win.

Nothing was going to stand in the way of Valencia’s Foothill League championship hopes on Tuesday.

Not Canyon’s impressive defense, not a slow third quarter and certainly not the Canyon fans, who brought a sign featuring a larger-than-life mug of Vikings star Lonnie Jackson with the word “overrated” underneath.

Valencia’s prolific scorer took advantage of the Cowboys’ pressure to continually find open teammates and lead the Vikings to a 50-41 win at Valencia High School.

“You’re always going to have haters and people hating,” Jackson said. “I honestly didn’t see (the signs) and I don’t pay any attention to that stuff.”

The win also gives the Vikings (20-4, 7-2) a leg up on Canyon (17-8, 6-3) in the league title race.

The Vikings are tied with Golden Valley atop the league and can clinch at least a share of the title Thursday against Saugus.

On Tuesday, Valencia raced ahead 18-5 as Jackson picked up five first-half assists.

Jackson found forward Tanner Tredick for a pair of scores that helped put his team up 22-11 with three minutes left in the first half.

A basket by Vikings center Aaron Spargo made it 24-11 with two and a half minutes remaining. Spargo finished with a team-high 12 points on the night.

“Obviously, our plan was to let other Vikings hurt us,” said Canyon head coach Chad Phillips. “And they did.”

Phillips said Tredick was a critical factor, along with the way Valencia’s frontcourt dominated the boards.

It was a stark contrast from the teams’ last meeting.

On Jan. 22, Canyon’s Wesley Bartole and Brian Nnaoji combined for 25 of the team’s 36 points in the second half of a 59-53 win over Valencia.

Second-chance points hurt the Vikings in that meeting, but this time, Valencia sustained a lead for 31 minutes with tough team defense.

“The first half of the season we were kind of scrambled on defense as a team,” Spargo said. “We’ve been working on that a lot and it paid off tonight.”

Canyon’s Wesley Bartole hit a late layup to cut the halftime lead to 28-13. Bartole finished with 14 points to lead the Cowboys.

In the second half, the teams traded baskets but Canyon still trailed 31-17 before Phillips needed a timeout with three minutes left in the third quarter.

During the third, Bartole was alone on a fast-break layup but his shot went around the rim and out.

That play typified how the night went for Canyon. Even when there were opportunities, the Cowboys couldn’t take advantage.

Valencia only outscored Canyon 5-4 in the third, but it was enough for the Vikings to hold on to their 16-point lead.

Jackson finished with only 10 points, but his seven assists all seemed to come at crucial times.

“That was my role tonight,” Jackson said. “I told my teammates, ‘If you’re open, I’m going to get you the ball.’ They stepped up and made big shots.”

Canyon cut the lead to 39-28 with four and a half minutes left, and later, a 3-pointer by Canyon’s Coley Apsay and a pair of free throws by Tere Adams pulled the Cowboys within 41-32.

Unfortunately for Canyon, Nnaoji fouled out with about a minute left, and Valencia secured the win at the free throw line.



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