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Wright cleans an early mess

Senior forward has a double-double as Vikings overcome sluggish start

Posted: February 20, 2009 1:37 a.m.
Updated: February 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia senior Starla Wright (34) takes a jump shot over Pioneer Valley's Selena Hernandez Thursday at Valencia High School.

 
Valencia overcame a jumpy start and got 17 points and 17 rebounds from Starla Wright in a 63-40 victory over Pioneer Valley Thursday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs.

The Vikings (21-6) built a 19-point lead at halftime, but doing so involved calming down and settling into their style of play.

“Maybe they were a little nervous,” said Valencia head coach Jerry Mike. “We turned it over a bunch. They seemed a little quick to make decisions and a little uptight. When they settled down, they were fine.”

Wright cleaned up several misses in the first half for Valencia, which didn’t force turnovers with its press defense.

“I thought Starla gave us a lot of easy buckets with her hustle,” Mike said.

Fortunately for the Vikings, Pioneer Valley (15-11) couldn’t capitalize on the slow start.

The Panthers executed their sets but repeatedly missed open jumpers.

“Early on, I thought the score was pretty even, but we just didn’t finish,” said Pioneer Valley head coach David Amido. “We had a lot of good looks early in the game, and because we didn’t make those early looks, that put us behind.”

Valencia’s Lindsey Hill and Jenny Lentz broke the game wide open in the fourth quarter. Hill and Lentz consistently got to the basket for high-percentage shots and helped stretch the lead to as many as 30 points.

“I thought we really pushed it and wanted this game more than anything,” Lentz said. “I’m so proud of Lindsey. I was right there with her.”

The duo scored 15 of Valencia’s 20 points in the period.

“We ran some slip-cuts for Jen and she finished,” Mike said. “When Lindsey plays like that, we’re tough. When she’s determined to get to the rack, she usually gets there.”

Hill’s 18 points led Valencia, and Lentz wound up with 15. Wright also had five steals, and Lauren Spargo finished with four points, five boards and four assists.

Hannah Miller scored 12 points to pace Pioneer Valley while Lauren Barnum had seven.

“Once they got going, we just couldn’t get anything going,” Amido said. “After that we kind of settled in, but by that time we were in a big hole.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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