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Milestone No. 1: Golden Valley clinches share of title

Golden Valley boys basketball claims the school’s first-ever league title

Posted: February 11, 2009 2:37 a.m.
Updated: February 11, 2009 4:59 a.m.

Golden Valley's Maverick Ahanmisi (13) dribbles as Valencia's Lonnie Jackson attempts a steal Tuesday. Both players scored 29 points.

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After Golden Valley finished winless in the Foothill League last season, a league title seemed distant.

“I challenged us,” said Grizzlies head coach Chris Printz. “We’ve got to work harder, all of us. We thought about this for 365 days.”

Their work has been rewarded.

Golden Valley began the fourth quarter with a 16-0 run and defeated Valencia 69-56 on Tuesday to clinch at least a share of the Foothill League championship, the first league title of any kind in the school’s history.

“This feels good,” said Grizzlies guard Maverick Ahanmisi, who was among eight seniors honored during senior night. “I’ve been here for four years, and in previous years we weren’t even close to this.”

Golden Valley is 8-1 in the Foothill League, and the Grizzlies can finish with two losses at worst. Hart, meanwhile, can clinch a share of the title if it defeats Saugus on Thursday and Golden Valley loses to West Ranch.

On Tuesday, the Grizzlies earned their share by wrestling it away from the defending champions.

Valencia (16-9, 4-5) led by one after three quarters, and Golden Valley’s Trevor Wiseman opened the fourth quarter with a put-back basket. Teammate Steven Thornton blocked a shot at the other end, and Ahanmisi drilled a 3-pointer to put Golden Valley ahead 49-46.

After a stop on defense, Wiseman converted a three-point play, and another stop led to a layup by Ahanmisi and a timeout by Valencia.

“We might have been caught up in the night,” Printz said. “Finally, we challenged them in the timeout before the fourth quarter and they responded.”

Golden Valley (22-3, 8-1) started five seniors who normally come off the bench, and Valencia (16-9, 4-5) took advantage by jumping out to a 7-0 lead.

“With me and Chris White as senior captains, we felt other players should play,” Ahanmisi said. “Coach said it comes with a lot of responsibility, and we accepted that.”

Ahanmisi poured in 17 of his game-high 29 points in the first half – including a red-hot 55 percent from downtown – and Golden Valley clamped down on defense to take a six-point lead into the break.

Valencia responded by limiting Golden Valley to 26 percent shooting in the third quarter, and Thornton, who leads the Grizzlies in scoring, didn’t score his first points until midway through the third.

“I think it shows we’re very versatile,” Printz said.

Lonnie Jackson scored 29 points for Valencia, and Emmanuel Anumba was the only other Viking in double figures with 11 points.

Wiseman added 17 points for Golden Valley, which will try to win the league title outright on Thursday.

“I asked everyone if we’re satisfied, and to a man, we said no,” Printz said. “For us, the most important day of the season is (Thursday).”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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