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Big returns

Viking Starla Wright scores 27 points in her first game back from a concussion

Posted: January 27, 2009 9:15 p.m.
Updated: January 28, 2009 4:57 a.m.

Valencia High's Starla Wright (34) battles Canyon's Kayla Michel (33), left, and Sara Ward (10) for a loose ball during Tuesday evening's game at Valencia. The Vikings won 70-57.

 
Starla Wright makes a huge difference for the Valencia girls basketball team.

If you want proof, just ask Canyon.

Wright scored 27 points in her first game back after suffering a concussion 12 days ago, leading the Vikings to a 70-57 victory over the Cowboys Tuesday at Valencia High School.

“She was huge,” said Valencia head coach Jerry Mike. “She scores, but she pressures the ball on the press and sets up her teammates, too. You don’t realize it until she’s gone for a little while.”

Canyon (3-18, 2-3) realized her presence from the opening tip. The bigger Cowboys played her tough in the post, but Wright was ready for it and scored 17 points in the first half while getting to the free throw line with regularity.

“You know it’s going to be physical, so I knew that I had to be as strong as them mentally as well as physically,” Wright said.

Valencia (16-5, 3-2) also did a good job of slowing down Canyon’s guard-oriented offense. The Vikings maintained a comfortable edge for most of the game by limiting the production of Brooke Lemar and Layana White and then protecting their defensive glass.

“They’re a great offensive rebounding team, and they’ve got two guards that are fantastic,” Mike said. “We really thought White and Lemar were the key to their offense, so we tried to make them take difficult shots and keep them in front of us as much as we could.”

White and Adriana Dent led the Cowboys with 16 points apiece, but Lemar had just six.

“We didn’t move the ball as we should have,” Lemar said. “Personally, my shot wasn’t falling, so I should have got other people the ball.”

Wright received plenty of support from her teammates, who helped put the game away in the second half.

Lindsey Hill added 16 points, and Jenny Lentz scored eight of her 11 points in the second half. Seven different Vikings hit shots in the fourth quarter.

Despite all the time that Wright missed, Mike didn’t feel his team struggled in readjusting to Wright’s presence in the lineup.

“I thought right away we got Starla involved, and I didn’t sense (any struggles adjusting),” Mike said. “I didn’t see that. We were a little worried about it. We were worried about her shape, too, so I gave her some breaks early, but none late.”

Canyon had no answer.

“We don’t have a dominant post,” Lemar said. “It’s just hard to guard somebody who’s physical like that.”

Valencia will travel to face league-leading Saugus on Friday, while Canyon will host West Ranch.

“I felt pretty good going in,” Wright said. “I knew this was a big game, so I just said I’m going to put aside everything and focus on this game. My head was in it.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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