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Prep boys hoops: Time to take notice of Valencia basketball

Valencia opens Foothill League season with 3-0 record

Posted: January 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Valencia's Riley Honaker (10) scores against Canyon defender Park Mackenzie (24) at Canyon on Tuesday. The Vikings defeated the Cowboys 58-42.


Valencia boys basketball was away from the Santa Clarita Valley in the preleague season just long enough for people to forget about it.

Now the Vikings, who played all their preleague games on the road, are giving everyone a reminder.

Valencia defeated Canyon 58-42 on Tuesday night.

Now the Vikings (14-3 overall, 3-0 in the Foothill League) own victories against Golden Valley, Saugus and Canyon to start league play, with league title favorites Hart and West Ranch ahead.

One could argue the way Valencia has played early in the Foothill, that it belongs in the conversation with Hart and West Ranch.

Few would have said that coming into the season with the Vikings returning zero All-Foothill Leaguers.

“We work as a team. We have ways to come out on top,” said senior guard Riley Honaker, who led the Vikings with 15 points. “We’re not individuals. We pass the ball. We share it and knock down open shots.”

This was another Valencia collective effort.

Nearly every player on the court for the Vikings was efficient.

The Vikings shot 52 percent from the field, hit 6-of-14 on 3-point shots and received eight points each from Angel Cardenas, Jaleel Howard and Alex Sanchez.

Valencia led 14-13 after one quarter, then started the second on an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 22-15.

The Vikings got another cushion on a 13-1 run, which started midway through the third quarter that put the advantage at 50-31.

That run was a microcosm of the game — Valencia earning extra chances by being quicker to loose balls and putting the clamps on Canyon defensively.

“It’s been more about the defense,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins on the success of his team. “And the effort. We played good team defense. It’s one of those things, everyone has to be accountable.”

Canyon (11-8, 1-2), meanwhile, struggled to get its main offensive threats to have complete games.

For the second game in a row, small forward Marc Cabrera had a big first quarter, then tailed off as the game went on.

He scored all seven of his points in the first quarter of last Friday’s loss to West Ranch.

On Tuesday, he scored eight of his team-high 12 points in the first quarter.

Ben Taufahema added eight points on 2-of-9 shooting.

“In my mind, we didn’t do too many things right,” said Canyon head coach Sean DeLong. “It wasn’t a very well played game. ... We have to set good screens and get (Cabrera and Taufahema) open to create more opportunities. They’re not getting them.”
Canyon has a critical matchup against 0-3 in league Saugus on Friday.

Valencia gets Hart.


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