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Valencia runs away from Quartz Hill

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

QUARTZ HILL — As Rocket Collins sat on the bench in pre-game warmups, the Valencia Vikings boys basketball head coach had an inkling that one of his players was about to have a big night.

Collins’ hunch proved to be true.

Valencia guard Angel Cardenas poured in 33 points, including six 3-pointers, to help the Vikings get past Quartz Hill 75-60 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IAA boys basketball playoffs Friday night.

“I sat down before the game and thought one of my guys would get at least 30 points,” Collins said. “I didn’t know if (Cardenas) would be the one but I just had a feel for that.”

Valencia, which improved to 20-8, will play at Trabuco Hills on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the second round.

In addition to Cardenas’ big night, junior guard Malik McCowan had 17 points while senior guard Jaleel Howard chipped in with 11.

With the Vikings up 46-28 at the half, Cardenas single-handedly put the game out of reach by burying four straight 3-pointers to start the third quarter as Valencia ripped off a 12-2 run.

“My teammates found me when I was on fire,” Cardenas said. “I’m thankful for that.

“I think it took away (Quartz Hill’s) heart a little bit.”

Cardenas’ surge surprised the Rebels, who ended their season at 21-7 after splitting the Golden League championship.

“I play travel ball with him so I know he can shoot the ball,” said Quartz Hill senior Reggiontae Cooper. “But I didn’t know he was going to come out shooting like that.”

Cardenas said he’s hoping for another big night on Tuesday for the Vikings, who are ranked ninth in the division.

“We’ve got a good playoff seed but we’re trying to surprise people,” Cardenas said. “I feel like we’re a little bit underrated.”

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