Mason Nesbitt: A wild start to Foothill play

Valencia High's Zach Hawkins has made seven 3-pointers in two Foothill League games this season. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia junior Zach Hawkins couldn’t miss. Five girls soccer teams couldn’t score.

A girls basketball team won by 77. Saugus boys hoops knocked off the defending champs by one.

It all made for a wild, unexpected opening day and night of Foothill League winter sports Tuesday, almost ensuring a fantastically unpredictable next five weeks.

It all started with afternoon boys soccer and Saugus’ James Johnson jumping around and hollering, “We beat Hart.”

Coach Seth Groller didn’t try to calm his star after the 4-1 road win. Why would he?

It was just the Centurions fourth win over the Indians in their last 16 meetings.

“How does that feel?” Groller rhetorically asked his team.

Saugus girls soccer felt something similar in a 0-0 tie with defending champion Hart after finishing winless in league last season. It was one of two 0-0 ties on the day (Valencia and West Ranch was the other).

Had it not been for Alyssa Aguilar’s goal and Claudia McKail’s two scores in Canyon’s 3-0 win over Golden Valley, the whole league might have laid an egg.

As for Saugus, the good vibes rolled into the evening when Cents boys basketball toppled three-time defending champion Hart, 73-72 — Saugus’ first win over the Indians in the teams’ last 11 meetings.

Senior Zach Phipps says his team didn’t only believe it could go to Hart and win, it believed — believes — it can win the whole thing.

Phipps had 26 points, but Anthony McIntyre stole the show in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 25 points.

“Anthony was killing it, man,” Phipps said.

The same could be said of Hawkins, who scored 27 points on 7-of-8 shooting from behind the arc to lead Valencia over West Ranch.

“Every time I had the ball, I had the feeling it was going in,” Hawkins said.

The Vikings surged to an eye-popping 16-point lead at halftime and hung on with white knuckles as West Ranch climbed within three in the closing minutes.

An Austin Galuppo three-point attempt missed late, and the Vikings held on for an 83-79 win.

It was a confidence builder for a young Valencia team and for Hawkins, who emerged on Jan. 3 from a shooting slump that must now feels like ancient history.

“It was nice to see the confidence soaring from him tonight,” said Valencia coach Chad Phillips after the game. “… The Foothill League is a beast and when the lights are the brightest you want your best players to play well.”

“A beast,” translated from coach lingo, means any team can beat any other team on any night. This year that may actually be true.

How else do you explain a Golden Valley team that had lost five of its last six games beating Canyon after losing to the Cowboys by 15 in late December?

The Grizzlies won Tuesday, 51-48, behind Milan Taylor’s 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

However, Taylor’s was not the most well-rounded stat line of the night. Canyon girls basketball junior Rachel Bowers recorded the first triple-double of her career: 17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks.

“It all seemed so easy,” said Canyon coach Jessica Haayer of Bowers.

Canyon’s 80-40 win over Golden Valley was one of three lopsided games in girls hoops. The average margin of victory on the night was 45, somewhat skewed by Valencia’s 82-5 win over West Ranch, the Vikings’ largest margin of victory in at least 18 years.

“We did only score 26 in the second half,” said Vikings coach Jerry Mike. “You still want to compete and give your opponent the respect of competing hard.”

The final score drew virtual gasps on Twitter.

Here’s to hoping the rest of Foothill League play takes the SCV’s breath away.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS