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Big shot keeps Canyon girls alive

Posted: February 7, 2014 10:41 p.m.
Updated: February 7, 2014 10:41 p.m.

The Canyon girls basketball team celebrates after defeating Valencia on Friday at Canyon High.

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Big players hit big shots in big spots.

Canyon’s most direct link to its dynastic past hit the biggest shot of the 2014 season for the Cowboys on Friday night.

With 20 seconds left, Canyon senior guard Kali Vittallo hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 20 seconds left to give her team a 46-43 victory over Valencia on Friday night at Canyon High.

The shot and the win did two things.

They kept Canyon’s hopes of a fifth straight Foothill League title alive and it stopped Valencia from clinching its own Foothill title.

“It felt so pressured this year. Back in the summer, no one thought we’d be in this, but we wanted to prove everyone wrong,” said Vittallo, who scored 16 points. “We didn’t want this to end with us.”

The Cowboys (23-4 overall, 7-1 Foothill League) won four straight league titles, with the last two on the backs of Alia McCoy and Jaya Schultz, who graduated in 2013.

Vittallo was considered the only star-caliber player left.

However, others have risen to that level around her.

Included in that are senior post player Monica Friedl, who scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half, and junior post player Delaney McCann, who scored 10 points.

It was Friedl, though, who boosted Canyon early to an 18-11 lead after a quarter and 29-20 advantage after two.

Valencia (17-8, 7-1) struggled from the field in the first three quarters, shooting 21 percent.

Making matters worse was their post presence Sandra Ikeora was in foul trouble throughout. She fouled out in the fourth quarter with 10 points.

Canyon, though, went cold in the second half, shooting 23 percent from the field.

Valencia outscored Canyon 13-4 through the first seven minutes of the final quarter and tied the score at 43-43 with a Paige Nealy hook shot in the paint with 40 seconds to play.

Canyon head coach Chuck Johns said he didn’t take a timeout because he knew the Viking defenders would key on Vittallo.

She had just enough room to hit her biggest shot.

“She knew what to do,” Johns said on the final shot.

When these two teams met Jan. 21, it wasn’t close.

Valencia was dominant in a 53-27 victory.

In that game, Canyon showed little aggression on defense.

“I think we didn’t have enough energy,” said Valencia guard Kenadee Honaker, who scored eight points, of her team. “In the beginning, we didn’t want it as bad.”

Valencia’s Kayla Konrad scored 11 points in the game.

If the Vikings win their final two games and Canyon wins its final two, which they are both favored to do, they will split the Foothill League title for the second season in a row.

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