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Foothill basketball: Vikes show new look

Valencia goes small in win over Cents

Posted: January 9, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 9, 2013 1:55 a.m.

This is the new Valencia boys basketball.

It’s a smaller, quicker, grittier group than in year’s past.

Most importantly, the Vikings play as a team, as they did in Tuesday night’s 55-50 Foothill League-opening win over Saugus at Valencia High.

“You can’t just guard one guy,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. “It’s easy when you have one guy, and (opponents) key on him. It is a little bit better now.”

Gone are the days of former Valencia stars Lonnie Jackson and Troy Hammel lighting up the scoreboard while surrounded by a bunch of big, tall guys to rebound.

On Tuesday, the Vikings (12-2 overall, 1-0 Foothill) scoring was spread out between leader Garret Mike (13 points), Angel Cardenas (11) and Jaleel Howard (10).

Garrett Mesa also added eight points for Valencia.

“We try to play a lot of team ball,” said Mike, who scored eight of his points in the final 2:02 of the first half. “Since we’re not that tall, we try to get everyone involved.”

Against another small, but scrappy Saugus team, it was a somewhat evenly matched game for most of the opening frame until Howard nailed a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to put his team in front 15-9.

That paved the way for a 17-point second quarter and a 32-18 halftime lead.

At that point, Valencia was shooting 59 percent, though it eventually cooled down to 48 percent for the game.

“(We) were slow out of the shoot,” said Saugus head coach Derek Ballard. “We  got picked and they made their shots.”

Nine of Valencia’s 20 made shots were 3-pointers. Both Cardenas and Mike made three apiece.

“My teammates were looking for me, which was nice,” Mike said of his hot-shooting night. “I just let it fly.”

The Centurions (10-8, 0-1) mounted a rally after the break by going on a 10-2 scoring run to cap off the third quarter. That cut Valencia’s lead to 41-35.

Jeff Ashburn led Saugus with 15 points and Chris Lockwood added 13 points, including a four-point play in the final seconds of the game to give the Centurions one last fighting chance.

Following a Vikings turnover, Saugus missed a 3-pointer with 5 seconds to play and Valencia secured the rebound and the victory.

“We can only get better from here,” Ballard said.


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