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U.S. No. 2 KOs Vikes

One of the nation’s best teams knocks Valencia out of the postseason

Posted: February 26, 2009 1:15 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2009 4:56 a.m.
 
Brea Olinda dominated Valencia 82-43 to knock the Vikings out in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs Wednesday.

The Wildcats, ranked second in the country according to calpreps.com, built a 17-point halftime lead and pulled away in the third quarter.

“They came out and put the defensive pressure on us in half-court, and we struggled,” said Valencia head coach Jerry Mike. “We turned it over a few times. That’s kind of where the game got out of hand.”

Brea Olinda’s excellent front line of Kendall Rodriguez, Justine Hartman and Kelsey Harris proved to be too much for Valencia to handle. Hartman’s 6-foot-2-inch frame gave the smaller Vikings fits, and Mike praised Rodriguez’s game.

“I think she’s the best player I’ve seen all year in terms of getting to the bucket, rebounding and shooting the three,” he said.

Speedy point guard Jonae Irvin helped Brea Olinda (27-2) set the tone all evening, but Valencia stayed within striking distance for most of the first half by attacking Brea Olinda’s pressure and getting to the foul line.

“They were big and fast,” Mike said. “They just have some great players. They were definitely deserving of their No. 2 ranking.”

Valencia senior Starla Wright finished with 22 points and six rebounds, and Jenny Lentz added nine while Lindsey Hill scored seven.

Wright is part of a senior class that also includes Danielle Cavanagh and Kristina Hammel.

“We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to replace Starla, and Dani was a big outside threat for us,” Mike said.

Valencia ends the season 22-7, which is the best record in the history of the program.

“I was proud to be their coach,” Mike said. “They were competitors all the way to the end. I was just proud of them and how they approached the game in practice.

“I thought we went about as far as we could. I can’t imagine a team better than Brea.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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