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CIF basketball: Valencia can’t handle one of nation’s best

Vikings fall behind early to top-seeded Jackrabbits in blowout loss in first round of playoffs

Posted: February 19, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

The Valencia girls basketball team knew its opponents would be tough in the first round of the CIF-SS Division IAA playoffs.

And the tournament’s top seeded Long Beach Poly didn’t disappoint.

Valencia struggled with Poly from the opening tip en route to a 65-26 loss on Saturday night at Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

“I thought they were a little better than I thought in terms of their presses were very disciplined,” said Valencia head coach Jerry Mike. “They were extremely fast. Everybody on the court anticipated where the ball was going to be.”

Valencia tried to take it right to the Jackrabbits from the start with junior Kalia Summerlin driving into the lane before her shot was blocked against the backboard early in the first quarter.

And struggles inside turned out to be a theme for Valencia.

Valencia had trouble all night to find open looks, and rarely got an offensive rebound.

“They weren’t huge, 6-feet, 1-inches, 6-feet, 5-11,” Mike said. “But they play off the ground. Everybody on the floor for them is playing bigger than they are because they jump fast. They’re so aggressive and they’ll get the ball wherever it is.”

Summerlin scored half of the Vikings’ points, going 3-of-6 from 3-point range and scoring 13 points in the contest.

Sandra Ikeora blocked two shots and pulled down six rebounds, with Ashley Pinsker also adding six rebounds for the Vikings (16-12).

Valencia advanced to the first-round matchup with Jackrabbits (26-2), ranked No. 14 in the country by ESPNHS, by defeating Knight 64-36 in the wild-card round on Thursday.

But it was clear from the first quarter that Valencia wasn’t going to duplicate that result on Saturday.

The Vikings fell behind 22-4 after the first quarter of play, and trailed 40-12 at halftime.

“It was 7-0 pretty fast and we had Jennifer (Anumba) and (Ikeora) get quick fouls which hurt us. They got two quick ones each in the first quarter,” Mike said. “But (Poly) hit their free throws. They had 18 attempts and they hit 15. They’re not really an outside shooting team. They rely on taking it to the bucket and they made a lot of their free throws.”

Things didn’t get any better for Valencia after the break.

Valencia managed just four points in the frame and continued to struggle with the balanced Jackrabbits offense as they entered the final quarter of play down 61-16.

The Vikings were able to find offense in the fourth, as they outscored the Jackrabbits 10-4 in the quarter to set the final score.

“When we had shot attempts, which were few, we hit a good percentage,” Mike said. “But open shots were rare.”

The loss ends a season in which the Vikings finished third in the Foothill League and went 7-3 in league play.

The team loses five seniors, but returns its leading scorer in Summerlin.

“I’m excited about what’s coming back and excited about what this team did,” Mike said. “We were right in the mix like we thought we would be (in league). We missed a couple opportunities to win league, but the girls had a great time and they’re a special group of 11.”

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