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Valencia hoops survives Grizzlies

Vikings' late run sparks 67-57 win

Posted: January 17, 2014 9:24 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2014 9:24 p.m.

Valencia's Jaleel Howard (2) shoots against Golden Valley defender Cameron Knox (5) at Golden Valley High on Friday.

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No matter how many loose balls went against them or how many shots they missed, the Valencia Vikings boys basketball team never strayed from the plan.

And after getting all it could handle from the Golden Valley Grizzlies, Valencia hung on to win 67-57 after a big fourth quarter rally on Friday night at Valencia High School.

Dakota Abbott was a big part of Valencia’s run, scoring 12 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. With the score tied 42-42 headed into the final frame, the Vikings (14-4 overall, 2-0 Foothill League) caught fire to go on a 15-3 run and build a 57-45 lead.

Through the first three quarters, Valencia hadn’t led by more than two points.

“We came in thinking this game was won,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. “I talked about it at the beginning of the season, no game is going to be a gimme.”

It was a physical, high-intensity game most of the way through.

Golden Valley (7-9, 0-2) was taking advantage of the open lanes left by Valencia’s high pressure defense.

Grizzlies point guard Tristan Peralta was a big factor in breaking the press, which helped Golden Valley take an 11-0 lead early and a 32-30 lead into halftime.

Derek Schlossman led the Grizzlies with 15 points, all on 3-pointers, while Peralta and Cameron Knox each added 10.

But defensive breakdowns, missed shots and turnovers were costly for Golden Valley late.

“They hit some shots. Momentum swung and we got a little tired,” said Golden Valley head coach Dan Alon. “(Valencia) made the plays you would think an experienced team would.”

For the second game in a row, Vikings guards Jaleel Howard and Malik McCowan played big roles on defense, causing many of the team’s key turnovers down the stretch.

Both also contributed on the offensive end, with McCowan recording 12 points and Howard chipping in 11.

Valencia built its lead when Abbott and Angel Cardenas knocked down back-to-back threes and Abbott followed with a layup all within a 53 second span early in the fourth.

Up until that point, Valencia had missed its fair share of open shots.

The Vikings found the hot hand just in time.

“We were going to hit our shots because they weren’t falling,” said Abbott, who said he wanted to make up for his 0-for-5 performance on Tuesday against Saugus. “They finally fell.”

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