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Prep boys basketball: Vikings feel playoff pain

Valencia's surprising reaches the end in round two

Posted: February 19, 2013 10:09 p.m.
Updated: February 19, 2013 10:09 p.m.

Valencia's Jaleel Hward(12) shoots agains Aliso Niguel defender Mauricio Campos (32) at Valencia High on Tuesday during a CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoff game.

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This one was a little more emotional than most postgame goodbyes.

Valencia players, filed one by one, made their way out of the team room and thanked head coach Rocket Collins, most with tears in their eyes.

One prominent Viking couldn’t talk.

The Valencia Vikings lost 64-52 Tuesday night in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoffs at Valencia High to the Aliso Niguel Wolverines.

The emotion stemmed from so much.

Valencia (17-9) was not picked to get this far.

The Vikings found a chemistry that they had lacked in previous seasons.

And on top of that, this was a winnable game.

“We surprised a lot of people,” said Vikings junior guard Angel Cardenas. “Everyone didn’t think we’d finish near the top of the league or make playoffs.”

But they did.

And almost went farther.

The Foothill League’s third-place team was burned by two things in this game — the Wolverines’ hot start and the critical minutes that ended the third quarter and started the fourth.

Aliso Niguel (21-9) started the game on an 8-0 run and were up 14-2 midway through the first quarter, thanks to four 3-pointers.

Wolverines guard Scott Lynds hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter en route to a 19-point performance.

Aliso Niguel led 21-9 after the first frame.

“They’re a quick team and coming through the driving lanes they were aggressive. We were able to kick it out and move the ball a lot,” Lynds said.

Yet Valencia swung things around, mostly on the back of senior point guard Riley Honaker.

From the 1:50 mark of the first quarter to the 4:30 of the second quarter, the Vikings outscored the Wolverines 20-6 to cut the lead to 25-24.

Near the end of that run, Honaker, who led all scorers with 21 points, hit back-to-back threes.

Valencia was down only 31-28 at halftime.

The third quarter remained tight, with Viking sophomore Malik McCowan hitting a runner with a minute to play to pull the Vikings to within four at 41-37.

But the final minute of the frame hurt the Vikings.

Aliso’s Ronnie Harris, who scored 10 points, made a backdoor layup and free throw.

Then Lynds hit a jumper with five seconds remaining.

By the 6:40 mark of the fourth, the Wolverines completed a 10-2 run on another Lynds three.

“It was critical,” Collins said of that stretch of the game. “I was hoping it didn’t (affect) us, but we didn’t pick it up right away (in the fourth).

Aliso hit 10 threes in the game and had five players score in double figures.

Valencia needed a run desperately in the fourth and never got one.

Cardenas, who had eight points, hit a three with 1:41 to play to cut the lead to 59-49, but the Vikings season ended quickly after that.

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