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Prep Girls Hoops: Favorite emerges

Valencia takes its place in the driver’s seat in the race for a league title

Posted: January 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Valencia’s Sabrina Thompson (2) and Canyon’s Jaya Schultz (21) fight for a loose ball at Canyon on Tuesday. Valencia’s Sabrina Thompson (2) and Canyon’s Jaya Schultz (21) fight for a loose ball at Canyon on Tuesday.
Valencia’s Sabrina Thompson (2) and Canyon’s Jaya Schultz (21) fight for a loose ball at Canyon on Tuesday.

Canyon girls basketball has been the best team in the Foothill League over the last three-plus seasons and this year the Cowboys are again a title favorite.

But Valencia exposed something Tuesday that some knew all along.

Canyon doesn’t have the depth that Valencia does and now the Vikings are your new title favorite.

Valencia defeated Canyon 40-38 at Canyon High Tuesday in a game that came down to the wire.

“We wanted to beat them so bad. Most of us had dreams about it,” said Valencia power forward Sandra Ikeora, who led the Vikings with 13 points, 13 rebounds and five steals.

The 13th rebound and fourth and fifth steals were three of the most critical plays in the game.

Valencia guard Kalia Summerlin drained a 3-pointer with 1:30 to play to give the Vikings (14-5 overall, 3-0 in the Foothill League) their third lead of the game at 39-38.

After an Alia McCoy miss for Canyon, Summerlin missed her own jumper.

Ikeora rebounded the ball and was fouled.

The rebounding was a major difference in the game as the Vikings were all over the glass, outrebounding the Cowboys 37-19.

Neither team shot particularly well, but the rebounds created 15 more shot opportunities for the Vikings than the Cowboys.

After Ikeora was fouled, she hit one-of-two free throws for a 40-38 lead, then on Canyon’s possession, she stepped in front of McCoy to steal a pass by Leena Schultz.

Valencia called a quick timeout, but turned the ball over on the inbound.

Jaya Schultz then brought the ball up court with less than 10 seconds to play and Canyon (15-4, 2-1) again went to McCoy.

Ikeora stole that pass, too.

That signaled the end for the Cowboys.

Canyon, though, shot out to 10-2 lead in the first quarter and led 17-12 after a quarter, thanks to 10 points from McCoy and 10 turnovers by Valencia.

Yet Valencia kept chipping away, down 25-20 after two quarters and 31-29 after three.

The Cowboys relied too heavily on McCoy, who scored 14 points in the game, but was 1-for-9 from the field in the final three quarters.

“We wanted to keep her on the right and get her to drop step and be physical with her,” said Valencia head coach Jerry Mike. “Don’t let her inside and keep her in front.”

Canyon guard Kali Vittallo tried to bail McCoy out, but her nine points came on nine shots.

The Cowboys were 6-of-12 from the field in the first quarter and 6-of-26 thereafter.

No other Canyon player scored more than four points.

“We need to pressure them and not let them get comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Vittallo on what her team learned about Valencia for the next meeting. “We need to prepare on offense to step up and not rely on (certain) people to do something,”

Valencia got 11 points from Summerlin and 11 from Talia Roth, who added eight rebounds and three steals.

Jennifer Anumba chipped in with nine rebounds.



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