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Valencia finishes off Grant

After a sluggish start, the Vikings turn it on in Canyon Classic opener

Posted: December 10, 2008 10:51 p.m.
Updated: December 11, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Quincy Quintero (22) glides to the basket over Grant's Wayne Robinson, right, as teammate Aaron Spargo (40) stands by Wednesday.

 
Valencia may be young, but the defending Foothill League champions still know what it takes to win.

Quite often, patience is the answer.

That was the case Wednesday night, as the Vikings withstood an early barrage from Grant of Van Nuys before establishing control and earning a 62-45 victory in the opener of the Canyon Classic.

The athletic but out-of-control Lancers managed to jump on top of Valencia (4-1) in the first quarter, but Lonnie Jackson scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Vikings’ later surge.

“After the first quarter, I think we played well,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. “We were cold at the start. We might have hit two of our first 10 shots, so that makes it tough.”

Grant (0-2) never threatened to put the game away, however, because its offense relied so heavily on isolation and individual skill. The Lancers buried a couple of deep 3-pointers on the first few possessions and Corey Payne seemingly got to the basket at will, which forced Valencia to hike up its trap defense.

“We got into the press, and that made our defense a little bit more intense,” Collins said.

With Grant out of its comfort zone, the Vikings scored 39 points in the second and third quarters to take a commanding lead.

Jackson in particular helped put the game out of reach. After a cold first half which saw him hit just one of his first 11 shots, Jackson started getting to the free throw line and shot 55 percent from the floor in the second half.

“He’s gonna be a good player,” Collins said, “but he’s a competitor, too. If he misses a few in the first half, look out for the second half. A lot of times it evens out, but you hope it doesn’t last the whole game.”

Valencia was without the services of co-captain Emmanuel Anumba for the first half. Anumba was unharmed in a minor automobile accident Wednesday afternoon before the game, which delayed his arrival to the gym.

By the time he got there, his teammates already had the momentum well in hand thanks to their defense.

“We’ve got young kids, and sometimes when the offense doesn’t work, the defense doesn’t work,” Collins said. “We’re trying to make the defense work no matter what happens.”

The Vikings will face Lancaster at 6 p.m. today in the second round.

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