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Canyon sets up the big one

Strong defense, post play lead Cowboys to title showdown with West Ranch on Thursday

Posted: February 9, 2010 10:40 p.m.
Updated: February 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Valencia guard Lindsey Hill (20) fights for the ball with Mariah Mewborn (5) left, and Alia McCoy of Canyon at Valencia on Tuesday.

 
By Perry Smith
Signal Staff Writer

With patient offense and tenacious defense, the Canyon girls basketball team took apart Valencia on Tuesday, setting up a huge showdown on Thursday.

Thanks to the Cowboys’ 62-32 victory at Valencia High School, they will now face West Ranch on the road for the outright Foothill League championship.

Canyon came out strong against Valencia and raced out to a 16-4 lead after the first quarter. The Vikings (14-12, 6-3) turned the ball over seven times, most of them coming because of the Cowboys’ full-court press.

“We made a couple of adjustments on defense and we got our (post players) the ball early,” said Canyon head coach Chuck Johns. “And they did a great job for us.”

The Cowboys’ lead quickly grew to 22-4 early in the second quarter after Valencia again came out flat offensively.

The Cowboys (19-6, 8-1) kept pushing.

“I don’t know (what happened),” said Valencia head coach Jerry Mike. “Give Canyon credit. I thought we did a better job the first time. We really struggled again getting the ball up the court. They really looked like a league champ today. They were impressive.”

Canyon’s Brooke LeMar, the Cowboys’ leading scorer coming into the game, picked up her second personal foul and the team’s seventh with four minutes left in the second quarter.

It could have meant trouble for Canyon, which gave the Vikings 36 free throws the last time the two teams battled in a 54-51 Valencia win on Jan. 22. That night, LeMar shot 4-of-18 from the field.

Valencia made a small run with 1:48 remaining the first half, as guard Lindsey Hill scored seven unanswered points to help Vikings close the gap to 29-13, and force Johns to call a timeout.

Valencia wouldn’t get any closer.

Hill led the Vikings in scoring with 14 points.

This time, Canyon wasn’t going to give Valencia any free points at the charity stripe.

LeMar’s foul was her team’s last of the quarter, and while she finished the night shooting 2-of-4 for only six points, she had plenty of help this time.

Canyon’s offense showed no signs of slowing down, and the Vikings just couldn’t get enough stops on the defensive end.

After Johns’ timeout, Canyon continued to go inside, getting big baskets and offensive rebounds from Mariah Mewborn and Alia McCoy to close out the half with a 33-13 lead.

The pair combined for nine rebounds in the first half, many of them offensive, as the Cowboys were as dominant on the glass as they were defensively on the hardwood.

McCoy finished with six points and nine rebounds, and Mewborn added eight points, five rebounds and two blocks.

“I think we just played a little bit smarter this time around,” Johns said. “Sometimes, having somebody beat you can be a real good motivation.”

In the second half, Canyon kept pounding.

Cowboys center Kayla Michel scored four straight points to start the second half, and the Vikings continued to look discombobulated on offense. Michel finished with nine points and four rebounds.

After Canyon’s Alexus Bryant answered a Valencia shot-clock violation with a 3-pointer to make it 43-15 with six minutes left in the third quarter, the game’s outcome wasn’t in doubt for much longer.

The Cowboys finished the third quarter up 52-21 and then hit cruise control in the fourth.

Canyon’s Adriana Dent played strong on both sides of the ball as her team made its final push.

Dent led the team in scoring with 10 points.

With three losses in league play, Valencia’s chances at a league title are all but dashed, but it must finish out its season strong to secure the league’s third playoff spot.

With one loss, the Cowboys will head to West Ranch on Thursday for a chance at the Cowboys’ first league championship for girls basketball since 1973. West Ranch (15-8, 8-1) will host the Cowboys for a chance at the Wildcats’ first ever league title in girls basketball.

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