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Foothill League boys basketball: Vikes right the ship

Hammel scores 23; Valencia coach wins 200th game

Posted: January 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.

With his team locked in a tight contest with a Golden Valley team that it had beaten by 29 points earlier in the month, Valencia boys basketball’s Troy Hammel saw an opportunity to right the ship.

Down a point midway through the second quarter, the Vikings’ Riley Honaker hit Hammel with a no-look pass in the corner, where Hammel sank a 3-pointer to put Valencia ahead in an eventual 73-50 victory on Friday night at Valencia High.

Then he hit another 3. And then another.

Hammel finished the quarter with 13 points — all in the final four minutes — and gave the Vikings a 36-27 halftime lead that they would never relinquish.

“The end of the second quarter gave us that momentum,” Hammel said. “Going into the half we we’re more confident.”

Hammel finished with a game-high 23 points. Zach Davis scored 12 points and Michael Zerpoli added 10 for the Vikings.

The win marked the 200th victory at the school for head coach Rocket Collins, who was quick to suggest that any praise should be given to his players.

“It means I think I’m getting through to kids, and they’re doing it the right way,” Collins said. “I don’t shoot the ball, I don’t play defense ...,” he said. “It’s about the players that have been here.”

Golden Valley came out in a zone defense that frustrated the Vikings’ offense early on and forced four first-quarter turnovers.

Grizzlies guard Wade Rodriguez scored a team-high 14 points. Joey Quintanilla added 11 and Chris Benitez added 10.

Golden Valley trailed 15-13 after the first quarter and Benitez’ three second-quarter 3-pointers kept the Grizzlies neck-and-neck with the Vikings until Hammel took over.

“We ran out of gas,” said Golden Valley head coach Myron Watkins. “I applaud my guys because they came out with a lot of fight. They just need to learn to play for two halves. If we do that, we put ourselves in a great position.”

The second half though, was all Valencia.

With Hammel finding open looks, the Vikings were able to stretch the Grizzlies’ defense and get the ball inside.

Valencia’s defense forced 19 turnovers in the game, which were turned into 12 points.

The Grizzlies were held scoreless until the 4:22 mark of the third quarter and scored just eight points in the frame to trail 56-35 heading into the fourth.

“That was huge,” Hammel said. “We’ve struggled a few times in the third so coming out and increasing that lead really helped. And we were able to ride it out until the end of the game.”

While the win was a milestone for Vikings, the loss extends the Grizzlies Foothill League losing streak to 16 games.

Golden Valley will host West Ranch on Tuesday while Valencia will suit up on the road against a Canyon team that will be looking to end a two-game losing streak.

The Vikings lost to Canyon in their first matchup of the season 61-47 on Jan. 13.

“(Canyon’s) good, really good,” Collins said. “And I knew that before we even played them. They’re good. They’re at the top. But everyone is good. There’s not a weak team in this league.”


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