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Power shifts to Valencia girls hoops

Valencia shows Canyon it may be the new league power

Posted: January 21, 2014 10:55 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2014 10:55 p.m.

Valencia's Paige Nealy (30) shoots and scores over Canyon High defender Delaney McCann (33) at Valencia High on Tuesday.

 

Last year was the first indication that Valencia Vikings girls basketball might be gaining ground on the Canyon Cowboys.

Tuesday night might have been the sign that the Vikings have passed them.

Valencia defeated the four-time defending Foothill League champions 53-27 on Tuesday at Valencia High.

“It says we are the team to beat,” said Valencia head coach Jerry Mike of the Vikings’ win. “It puts us in the front. They’re the four-time champions.”

Valencia (13-6 overall, 3-0 Foothill League) shared the league title with Canyon (17-4, 2-1) last season in the final year of four-year varsity stars Alia McCoy and Jaya Schultz.

Their graduations left Canyon with fewer ballhandlers.

Now its best shooter, Kali Vittallo, is the point guard.

Valencia’s defense attacked Canyon’s weakness in the fullcourt and forced eight first-quarter turnovers and 18 total for the game.

The Vikings shot out to an almost incomprehensible 15-0 lead before Canyon’s Monica Friedl hit a short jumper with 44 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Canyon’s answer was an 11-2 run that cut the Vikings’ lead to 17-11 with 5:41 to play in the second quarter.

It was never closer than that.

Valencia’s starting five of three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior played well beyond its age.

The senior, Sandra Ikeora, scored 11 points, but was never the offensive force in the game.

Freshman Kayla Konrad was the driver.

She scored 14 points, all in the game’s first three quarters, and kept the Vikings active on offense.

But it was on defense where Konrad said the difference was.

“Our defense needed to stop Kali. Our biggest goal was to stop her. Don’t let her shoot. Don’t let them get easy (scores),” Konrad said.

Vittallo scored 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

Canyon shot just 24 percent from the field in the game.

Valencia expanded on a 26-15 lead at halftime by outscoring the Cowboys 16-3 in the third quarter.

Cowboys head coach Chuck Johns said there were no positives in this one.

“They did a great job and were prepared,” Johns said of Valencia.

This was the first time in his five seasons as Canyon head coach that the Cowboys had lost to a Foothill team by double digits.

The last time the Cowboys lost a Foothill game by double digits was Jan. 27, 2009 — a 70-57 loss to Valencia.

Valencia has the makings of being what Canyon was the last four years with its wealth of young talent.

Freshman Kenadee Honaker scored eight points as did freshman guard Ashlee Ane.

Senior Paige Nealy showed a great touch from the field and scored 10 points off the bench.

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