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The Day After Hoops: The chase is on

Valencia, Canyon girls battle for league supremacy in Friday matchup

Posted: January 31, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 31, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Canyon's Alia McCoy (23), left, chases Valencia's Sandra Ikeora (32) as teammate Jennifer Anumba (25) looks on at Canyon High on Jan. 15. The same two teams face off again on Friday in a matchup of the league's top two teams.

 

Last Friday was the marquee matchup for the Foothill League boys basketball season.

This Friday is the marquee matchup for the Foothill League girls basketball season.

First-place Valencia hosts second-place Canyon in the most significant remaining local girls basketball game of the regular season.

The significance is simple for Valencia — win and the Vikings are two games up on Canyon with two to play, meaning a Friday victory would, at worst, give them a share of the Foothill League title — their first since 2005.

A win for Canyon puts both teams at 7-1 in the Foothill League and in the driver’s seat to split the championship, which would be Canyon’s fourth straight.

Valencia won the first matchup 40-38 at Canyon on Jan. 15.

A big reason for that was the Vikings’ depth.

That depth has taken a shot this week as small forward Talia Roth, who Valencia head coach Jerry Mike called his key defender, has been battling the flu.

Mike expects Canyon head coach Chuck Johns to come up with a plan for this one.

“He’ll change things up against us,” Mike said. “He’s good. And I’ve been thinking about this game for a while.”

Lost in the magnitude of that game is another big one as Saugus hosts West Ranch.

“We’re battling for third place right now, a legitimate third place,” said Saugus head coach Kent Eaton. “We know West Ranch has the ability to play and we snuck in and got them at their home. It appears they were somewhat surprised by our play, so they’re out to get us. We’d like to have sole possession of third place.”

Saugus won the first meeting 45-37 — a game in which West Ranch’s top two players, Whitney Branham and Hannah Green were held to a combined 19 points.

Both teams are 2-2 since the previous meeting.

West Ranch got 24 points from Branham in a 56-42 loss to Canyon on Tuesday.

Saugus defeated Hart 51-43 on Tuesday, but had to hold off the Indians late in the fourth quarter.

Justice Bennett scored 17 for the Cents.

Friday’s final game is another intriguing one as Hart hosts Golden Valley.

The first meeting resulted in Hart’s first Foothill win since 2011 and only league victory this season.

Golden Valley lost to Valencia 68-39 on Tuesday and is still winless in the Foothill this season.

“The Foothill League is tough,” said Grizzlies first year head coach Kerri Garland. “But we’re killing ourselves with turnovers. ... I always want to win. My goal is to get better. There are spurts of it, but we haven’t put it all together yet.”

Boys

The oddest game Tuesday was Hart’s 60-50 victory over Saugus.

The game was played without a shot clock because it malfunctioned prior to the game.

Confusion ensued after that.

Saugus head coach Derek Ballard said he was under the impression that the public address announcer would count down the seconds once it reached the waning ticks of a regular 35-second shot clock.

That didn’t happen and Ballard asked a referee to clarify things. The referee told him there would be no shot clock.

Ballard said with his team down five points with 1:40 left and no shot clock, his team was forced to foul.

The coach was upset immediately after the game, but said there was no reason to complain about it on Wednesday.

“We lost the game because of the fact that we’re not mentally focused. We turned the ball over and we didn’t rebound,” Ballard said. “It was a natural case of the losing all these close games finally took its toll and guys played more selfish and we broke down.”

Four of Saugus’ five Foothill losses have been by five points or less.

He acknowledged that this loss could affect his team’s playoff seeding, though.

Golden Valley, meanwhile, had a chance to get its first win in Foothill League play, but Valencia edged it out 67-64.

“They’re good. I tell everyone they’re athletic and play hard,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. “It’s a testament to my players. I guess we get respect when a team plays that hard (against us).”

West Ranch defeated Canyon 67-59 on Tuesday in the other game.

The Wildcats play Saugus, Hart hosts Golden Valley and Canyon travels to Valencia on Friday.


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