Foothill girls hoops roundup: Valencia wins 19th straight league game

Canyon and Valencia players battle over a loose ball during a basketball game at Canyon. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Kayla Konrad had already made one last-second shot this season.

Valencia had already pulled out one narrow victory against rival Canyon.

When the Vikings needed it most Tuesday, they combined both of those ingredients to produce the perfect finish at Canyon.

After Cowboys junior Talia Taufaasau tied the score by making two free throws with 6.9 seconds left, Konrad took the inbound pass and drove the length of the court, banking in a left-handed layup just before time expired to lead Valencia to a thrilling 47-45 Foothill League girls basketball victory.

Photos: Valencia girls basketball defeats Canyon

“She just wants to win,” Valencia coach Jerry Mike said. “It doesn’t matter if she scores 20 or if she scores five, she wants the ball in her hands in those situations. She doesn’t panic, her demeanor doesn’t change and she just keeps going. That’s how hard she pushes, whether it’s the first shot or the last shot.”

Konrad helped Valencia outlast Alemany 49-47 in overtime Nov. 23 by making the winning shot. The Vikings (16-4, 3-0) won the Magnolia Park Optimist Club tournament title at Burroughs with a 46-45 victory Dec. 10 over Canyon (11-8, 2-1).

Valencia’s Kayla Konrad (23) goes up for a shot as Canyon’s Rachel Bowers, right, and Gabby Sanchez, center, try to block her during a basketball game at Canyon on Tuesday. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Those results gave Konrad and her teammates the confidence to know they could deliver again down the stretch, despite trailing 43-38 with 2:21 remaining. Kenadee Honaker hit her lone shot, a 3-pointer with 2:05 left, and Jade Jordan converted a rebound putback 45 seconds later to tie the score before Konrad gave Valencia a 45-43 lead with 39 seconds remaining.

“We dug deep and we kept playing. We weren’t going to stop,” said Konrad, who had 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

“Playing at Canyon for the last time and hitting a buzzer beater, it’s an amazing feeling. It’s our senior year and we want to go out with a bang.”

Konrad’s heroics helped Valencia extend its league winning streak to 19 in a row since a 52-48 loss Jan. 23, 2015 at Canyon. The Vikings secured their fifth consecutive victory over the Cowboys, including the tournament championship.

“This is the place where we need to win in order to win the Foothill League,” Mike said. “It’s tough here and they’re tough here, so this feels really good.”

The loss overshadowed a stellar effort by Canyon junior Rachel Bowers, who had 26 points – 21 in the first half – and 16 rebounds. Valencia did manage to slow down the 6-foot-3 forward in the second half and held her scoreless the final five minutes.

“I felt like they were double-teaming me and face-guarding me more, so they definitely switched things up in the second half,” Bowers said.

Valencia’s Kayla Konrad (23) celebrates her game-winning buzzer-beater with teammate Nicole Weatherman (34) as Canyon’s Angie Puno (5) looks up at the scoreboard on Tuesday. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Chyanne Pagkalinawan added 12 points and Jordan scored seven points for Valencia, which overcame and 11-point second-half Canyon run with seven straight points in the fourth quarter.

Other scores

Saugus 47, Golden Valley 34

Monique Febles led the Centurions (10-11, 2-1) with 19 points. Serene Tyus scored 16 points for Golden Valley (8-11, 0-3).

Hart 66, West Ranch 43

Annie Christofferson scored 19 points for Hart 7-11, 2-1). Eleanor McQuillen scored 20 points for the Wildcats (5-15, 0-3).

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