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Vikes not intimidated

Jackson scores 26 points to lead Vikings at Canyon Classic

Posted: December 10, 2009 10:17 p.m.
Updated: December 11, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Valencia's Aaron Spargo, center, looks to pass as Eastside's Willie Brown (23) and center Khalfani Williams, right, defend on Thursday night at the Canyon Classic at Canyon High School. The Vikings beat the Lions 58-52 in pool play.

 

Valencia point guard Jake Kelfer took a hard foul to the floor on a fast break against Eastside High.

He popped up and quietly went eye-to-eye with 6-foot-7-inch Lions center Khalfani Williams.

Teammates on both sides quickly intervened.

Shortly after, Williams was called for his fifth foul and then a sixth almost simultaneously for arguing the call. The referee didn’t realize Williams had already fouled out when he was ejected.

But the tone had been set much earlier. The Vikings were in for a battle.

Valencia junior Lonnie Jackson responded by sinking four straight free throws to push his team’s lead to 12 with five minutes left in the third quarter of a 58-52 Vikings win on Thursday in the Canyon Classic at Canyon High.

Eastside used a trapping pressure defense to stay with the Vikings in the first half.

But as the Lions committed foul after foul, Jackson just kept sinking free throws.

“That was our plan, to be physical with (Jackson), and I thought we did a pretty good job against him early,” said Lions head coach Jesse Parker. “But when you have a guy hit 14-of-15 free throws, it’s pretty hard to stop.”

Facing full-court pressure for most of the game, Jackson was limited to nine first-half points as he distributed the ball well.

But his fellow Vikings had trouble finding the mark.

Valencia head coach Rocket Collins said he asked everyone before the game to step up their individual team roles.

Collins said defenses are likely to start focusing more and more on Jackson as the season goes on. The talented swingman scored a school record 38 points in his team’s first game of the Canyon Classic on Tuesday.

“We talked about everybody doing something, not just scoring, but everybody contributing,” Collins said. “They were just more physical than us in the first half.”

A stingy effort from the Lions’ defense wasn’t enough stop Jackson.

Jackson said he had been anticipating more pressure like this at the start of the year.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I worked all summer on anticipating double and triple teams, but tonight was the first chance I had to use (the practice).”

The results showed. Jackson led the team with 26 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of steals as the team took a 30-23 lead into the half.

However, the rest of the Vikings’ offense, which put up 96 points two nights ago, had a tough time breaking away from Eastside (0-2). Valencia’s next-leading scorer was guard Troy Hammel, who added five.

The post play of Lions’ centers Quincy Moore and Williams gave the Vikings’ front court fits in the paint. Moore scored 17, 12 in the second half, and added five blocks as Eastside trailed 30-23 at the half.

But after Kelfer’s fall, Williams’ ejection and Jackson’s free throws, the momentum had shifted decidedly toward the Vikings.

The Vikings went cold again in the fourth as the Lions made a late push, but couldn’t cut the deficit to less than six. It didn’t help that Williams’ foul put Valencia in double-bonus foul trouble. Eastside ended up with 17 fouls on the night.

“We knew that was going to be a spark for the team,” Kelfer said. “We just wanted to try to use that and go on a run.”

The Vikings (5-1) play again tonight at 9:15 p.m. against Highland in the championship bracket of the Canyon Classic.

 

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