Valencia gets gritty in win over Golden Valley

Valencia's Jayden Trower (23) goes in for a layup as Golden Valley's Milan Taylor (25) prepares to swat the ball away at Golden Valley on Jan. 31. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

When Valencia High and Golden Valley High met two weeks ago, it was flashy.

When they met again on Tuesday night, it was gritty.

The Vikings defeated the Grizzlies 64-53 at Golden Valley, avenging their one-point, last-second loss from earlier this month.

“Last game I wasn’t really mentally prepared, so this game I made sure to mentally prepare myself, watch film and just play my heart out,” said Valencia’s Jayden Trower, who had a game-high 20 points. “And if it didn’t fall, just keep shooting.”

PHOTOS: Valencia boys basketball defeats Golden Valley

In addition to razor-sharp minds, a sturdy defense held the Grizzlies to 15 points in the second half.

Valencia (12-11 overall, 4-3 in Foothill) relied on the height of players like Josh Assiff and Trower to counter Golden Valley’s size.

“Josh Assiff … came out and had an extraordinary game defensively, rebounding, defending with his energy,” said Valencia coach Chad Phillips.

“The key against Golden Valley is you’ve got to rebound. You’ve got to finish possessions with rebounds, and I thought we did that in the fourth quarter and that’s the key.”

The Grizzlies (10-13, 4-3) showed energy and promise in the opening half, tying the game at 33-all after the first two quarters. But they couldn’t sustain that level of play for the remainder of the game.

“I think sometimes we play immature,” said Golden Valley coach Larry Keys. “Sometimes it happens in short spurts, sometimes it happens in long spurts. Today was one of those instances where it happened late in the game.”

Richard Kawakami had 17 points for the Grizzlies and Milan Taylor added 10.

The Vikings made seven 3-pointers, proving scoring from beyond the arc is crucial against GV’s tall defense.

“We have a lot of tall players like myself, so we can shoot over the defense and … if we’re down in the game, it can help us get back in the game easier,” Trower said. “It’s kind of clutch.”

Both Valencia and Golden Valley are now in a four-way tie for second place in the Foothill League.

“It’s a logjam,” said Keys. “Winning tonight, we could have controlled our own destiny. Now we’ll need some help.”

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