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Vikes get out of slop

Valencia puts Troy away, despite slow start

Posted: February 19, 2009 1:49 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
It took 16 minutes for the Valencia boys basketball team to shake off the nerves of playoff basketball.

But, once the jitters were gone, the Vikings rolled to a first-round victory Wednesday night 67-56 over Troy at Valencia High.

After a first half that saw a combined 23 turnovers from the two teams, Valencia (18-9) settled down in the second half and used its pressure defense to finally slow the Warriors (11-14), forcing 13 turnovers in the final 16 minutes.

“I told them, ‘We know we can play better,’” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins describing his halftime speech. “They outplayed us and outhustled us even though we had a five-point lead. We had to make a commitment to sustain our energy the rest of the game.”

The game started slow for both sides with each squad turning the ball over more often than they were able to find the hoop, as Valencia took a 17-14 lead after eight minutes.

The second period was more of the same with neither team able to make a serious run leading to a frustrating 36-31 lead at the half for Valencia.

“We came out really sloppy,” said Valencia’s Cory Otavka. “We should have had a bigger lead at the half.”

Fortunately for Valencia, it had Lonnie Jackson.

And like he had done all season long, he found ways to keep his team in the game by scoring nine first half points, with each coming at a timely moment.

Jackson scored a game-high 23 points.

“We were struggling as an offense so I just needed to pick my spots,” Jackson said. “I knew my teammates would eventually pick it up offensively though.”

Not only did they pick up the offensive slack in the second half, but they turned up the defensive pressure and that led to the Vikings putting the game almost out of reach in the third quarter.

The Warriors’ first five possessions in the third resulted in turnovers, while the Vikings scored six straight points. A few more turnovers later from Troy and the Vikings were up 55-38 heading into the final frame.

Troy cut the lead to 60-52 at the midway point of the final quarter, but Valencia turned the Warriors aside down the final stretch for the final margin of 67-56.

Peter Abraham led the Warriors with 19.

Now, Valencia turns its attention to the second round after its first round victory.

“We just want to continue to take it one game at a time,” Otavka said. “We can’t look too far ahead. We have to focus on the present.”

The present will come Friday against the winner of Century vs. Katella.

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