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The Day After Hoops: Cents own top upset

Canyon girls were on the road to 10-0 in league until the Cowboys met Saugus

Posted: February 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.

On Tuesday, Saugus girls basketball put on a game-finishing clinic and in turn pulled off the upset of the Foothill League season.

The Centurions used team ball down the stretch to hand Canyon its first loss in league play, 45-44.

Though Canyon led most of the game, including the fourth quarter, Saugus freshman Natalie Valenzuela put her team ahead with the eventual game-winning shot in the final seconds.

"It was almost an identical game to the last time we played," said Saugus head coach Kent Eaton. "The only difference was we played badly in the first quarter instead of the fourth quarter."

And that was all the difference in the world compared to the Jan. 14 matchup, where the Cowboys edged out a 42-39 win.

The same Centurions who started Foothill play 1-3 have won three in a row and find themselves back in contention.

But Canyon, now 6-1 in league play, still leads the pack despite Tuesday's slip up.

"It was a little bit of us playing not to lose and a lot of Saugus playing to win," said Canyon head coach Chuck Johns.

Johns also pointed to the fact that Canyon didn't make a single 3-pointer in the game and went 12-for-23 from the free-throw line.

The Cowboys can't dwell too long, though, as they have a meeting scheduled with second-place Valencia on Friday.

The Vikings are just one game behind in the standings and have won four straight coming into the matchup, including a 67-41 rout of Golden Valley on Tuesday.

"They're playing really well," Johns said of Valencia. "This is it right here, Friday night. It will be a nice stage. The gym will be packed. I think they're going to come out with a lot of fire and so will we."

And right after that game, fans will be treated to another top-notch league matchup on the boys side.

At 6-1, Valencia is starting to prove its depth, winning once again without its top scorer, Lonnie Jackson. Jackson, along with teammates Troy Hammel and Michael Zerpoli had to sit out their team's 66-45 win over Golden Valley on Tuesday due to suspension.

All three will be back for the game Friday at Canyon High.

Trailing just behind at 5-2, the Cowboys have won three straight, all by more than 20 points.

The most recent was Tuesday's 67-45 victory over Saugus, which avenged a loss to the Centurions earlier this year.

"Defensively, we're more focused," said Canyon head coach Chad Phillips on Tuesday. "We're definitely hitting our peak. The key word there is focus."

So far, Canyon is the only team that has toppled league-leading Valencia in the Foothill season, winning 50-47 on Jan. 18.

The Cowboys and will have the crowd behind them this time around.

Hart boys basketball also put on a clinic for finishing Tuesday night, narrowly beating West Ranch for the second time this season. Senior point guard Roman Delgado sunk a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime to lift the Indians 65-64.

It was the second time this season Delgado made a shot in the closing seconds to beat West Ranch.

Last time it was a 60-58 win on Jan. 14.

Delgado scored 19 points in Tuesday's game, and 17 of them came after halftime.

Saugus hosts Hart on Friday. The winner moves to 5-3 in league and outright third place.



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