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Canyon girls hoops returns to quarterfinals

Cowboys reach quarterfinals for the fifth year in a row

Posted: February 26, 2014 10:42 p.m.
Updated: February 26, 2014 10:42 p.m.

Canyon's Kali Vittallo shoots against Pete Knight at Canyon High in a CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoff game on Wednesday. Canyon won 63-37.

This feels like home for Canyon girls basketball, especially for one player.

The Cowboys defeated Knight High of Palmdale 63-37 at Canyon High School in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoffs.

Now the Cowboys will travel to Newbury Park to play in a fifth playoff quarterfinal in a row.

Leading them to that point on Wednesday was Kali Vittallo — who for the first three seasons of her varsity career called the 3-point line home as a shooting guard.

The senior point guard got reacquainted with the 3-point line on Wednesday and made seven shots from the beyond the arc and led all scorers with 25 points.

“It felt really comfortable once I hit a couple of shots,” Vittallo said. “I love hitting threes.”

Delaney McCann scored 13 points for the Cowboys (27-4) and Monica Friedl added 12.

The game was tight early as the Hawks (18-9) countered Canyon’s outside shooting with 6-foot-3-inch center

Shalaunda Robinson controlling the paint and guard Brittani Larry driving to the basket.

Larry scored nine first-half points and Robinson added eight as Canyon led 32-27 at halftime.

The second half was a completely different story.

The Cowboys outscored the Hawks 19-2 in the third quarter as Knight couldn’t keep up with the pace.

Robinson scored eight points in the second half and the rest of her team managed just two.

“At first I was thinking, ‘She’s so big. What are we going to do?’” said Canyon wing player Alexa Porchia, who scored eight points in the game. “Then it was, ‘Do what you know.’ When you do what you know it works.”

For Canyon, that’s pressuring the ball.

Knight turned the ball over 23 times to Canyon’s 13.

“It’s conditioning,” said Knight head coach Danny Henderson on the difference in the second half. “It’s a difference playing a Foothill League team. ... It’s not necessarily fast breaks. It’s going hard 32 minutes.”

Henderson said he was proud of his team, which he said overachieved this season by winning the Golden League with a perfect 14-0 record and winning a playoff game.

Canyon meanwhile expects to be here.

The Cowboys are 1-3 in the last four quarterfinal games and have lost the last two by a combined five points.

“It starts to get a little more intense,” Vittallo said of the quarterfinals and beyond. “We need people to step up.

It will be a lot faster pace. We know it won’t be easy from her on out.”


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