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Important girls basketball matchup on tap

Hart boys basketball could clinch on Friday

Posted: February 6, 2014 9:56 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2014 9:56 p.m.

Valencia's Sanra Ikeora, center, drives between a pair of Canyon defenders on Jan. 21 at Valencia High. The same two teams will face off again Friday at Canyon High.

 

This is the time of year when every game, every play, every possession is magnified.

With three games remaining in the Foothill League girls and boys basketball seasons, it’s becoming clear which teams are in the league title hunt.

By the end of this week, we could see two league championship races all but decided.

The Valencia Vikings girls team (17-7 overall, 7-0 Foothill League) head into Friday with a chance to wrap up at least a share of the Foothill crown.

On top of that, the Hart Indians boys team (21-2, 7-0) could also clinch the title with a win Friday at Golden Valley. Hart could be outright Foothill champions if Valencia loses at Canyon that same night.

That sets the stage for Friday as a potential big day of basketball.

But no single game has more meaning than the Vikings girls facing the second-place Canyon Cowboys (22-4, 6-1), who still have a chance to win a fifth straight league title.

But Canyon will first have to win on Friday at Canyon High to avenge its 53-27 loss to Valencia back on Jan. 21.

Despite that lopsided loss, the Cowboys have been playing much better lately, winning their last four league games by an average of more than 27 points.

“We just kind of got back to being aggressive and getting after people,” said Canyon head coach Chuck Johns of the team’s recent uptick.

Valencia, meanwhile, snuck past Golden Valley 52-51 on Tuesday thanks to a 22-point, 20-rebound performance from freshman Kayla Konrad.

Valencia head coach Jerry Mike said he expects a tough matchup on Friday.

“I know the game at their place is going to be a hard one,” Mike said. “Since our (last) game with (Canyon), they’ve been really lighting people up really well.”

In other girls basketball matchups on Friday, Saugus (9-14, 0-7) plays at West Ranch (12-10, 3-4) and Hart (12-11, 4-3) travels to Golden Valley (12-10, 1-6).

Hart and West Ranch are both still in the hunt for playoff spots, though Hart holds the advantage for third place and an automatic berth for now.

In boys basketball, the biggest matchup on Friday will also take place at Canyon High, where the third-place Cowboys (20-4, 4-3) host the second-place Vikings (18-6, 5-2).

The last time these two teams played, Canyon suffered its worst loss of the season in a 81-49 setback at Valencia High.

“We’ve got to handle their pressure a lot better. We’ve got to execute,” said Canyon head coach Sean DeLong of Valencia. “I think one of the things that has gotten us in trouble in league is we stopped executing at times.”

If Valencia wins, it will go a long way for better postseason positioning.

Canyon is tied for third place in league with West Ranch (11-13, 4-3), which hosts Saugus (9-16, 0-7) on Friday.

Since starting off Foothill play with two straight losses, West Ranch has won four of its last five league contest to rally back into playoff contention.

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