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Foothill League boys basketball: Valencia backs up Jackson

Vikings boys basketball holds off West Ranch’s late charge to set up key rematch with Golden Valley

Posted: February 2, 2010 10:37 p.m.
Updated: February 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Valencia star Lonnie Jackson did everything he could to put his team in a position to win Tuesday evening.

When West Ranch mounted a late rally, Jackson’s teammates took it from there.

The Wildcats cut a 12-point deficit to just two points late in the fourth quarter, but Valencia managed to close out its five-game Foothill League road trip with a 78-73 victory at West Ranch High School.

“What we stopped doing was moving and setting plays and taking time off the clock,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. “We just traded baskets too much.”

With three minutes to play, Valencia forward Tanner Tredick hit a pair of free throws to put his team up 71-67.

West Ranch guard Alex Lucas scored on a layup before Valencia forward Michael Zerpoli followed a Jackson miss to stretch the lead to 73-69.

West Ranch center Ako Kaluna got inside position and scored, but Tredick later picked out Zerpoli for another basket to put Valencia up 75-71.

Lucas drove again and scored and West Ranch fouled Zerpoli, who missed the automatic free throw.

But West Ranch failed to capitalize on that possession and Tredick hit two more free throws to stretch the lead to 77-73 and effectively ice the game.

“I had to make up for the rest of the game,” Tredick said. “The coaches told me I needed to get more aggressive inside so I just took over.”

Indeed, Tredick and the Vikings (18-4, 5-2) built their lead by rebounding well and riding Jackson, who scored 35 points but took 30 shots and had to work to get them.

West Ranch (11-12, 2-5) threw several different looks at Jackson, including man-to-man, zones and even a chaser for a period of time.

The Wildcats also did a good job of slowing down Valencia’s transition game in the second half.

“They like to leak out,” said West Ranch guard Luke Hangen. “That’s how they get easy baskets. We just have to get back.”

Valencia gained a steady cushion on the scoreboard in the second and third quarters. Vikings guard Jake Kelfer stepped up to support Jackson by shooting 4-of-7 from downtown and scoring all 16 of his points in the middle periods.

“(Jackson) hadn’t gotten a break, so I just had to give us a boost,” Kelfer said.

Hangen gave West Ranch a boost in the fourth quarter. With his team trailing 69-57, Hangen hit a trey and then pulled off a three-point play.

West Ranch guard Eli Lucas then hit a layup to pull the Wildcats within four and force a Valencia timeout.

“We started getting to the basket more,” Hangen said. “We also got stops. We just needed to get more aggressive.”

Hangen scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, while Eli Lucas had 20 to lead the Wildcats. Kaluna and Evan Carothers added nine points apiece.

Tredick scored eight points for the Vikings, who now return home for their final three games, starting with a big showdown against league-leading Golden Valley on Friday.

“The league is still out there,” Collins said. “Everybody knows that.”

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