Thirty minutes after Valencia High beat Oaks Christian of Westlake Village on Saturday to advance to the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA final, parents and fans remained on Valencia’s court, hitting refresh on their phones and waiting.
Finally news dropped that Canyon High had beaten St. Anthony of Long Beach: It would be the first all-Santa Clarita Valley girls basketball championship since 2006, after all.
The other shoe dropped Monday, when the CIF announced the fourth meeting of the year between the Cowboys and Vikings would be Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
“I think we were all surprised,” said third-year Canyon coach Jessica Haayer of the venue. “We either thought it’d be at Azusa Pacific (University) or they’d move it more local probably. But I think (the girls) were excited.”
Under the Southern Section’s guidelines, the game potentially could have moved to the SCV if both schools’ principals agreed and the CIF approved the shift.
Likely, such a move wouldn’t have been approved, though, and the schools didn’t petition for it anyway.
Instead, they’ll face off inside the home of the Anaheim Ducks.
“They are excited,” said 18-year Valencia coach Jerry Mike of learning the location for Valencia’s first-ever title game appearance. “I told them today, but they already knew. They seemed pretty happy about it.”
Haayer felt her team’s reaction was tempered because it played in the Division 2AA final (a 47-33 loss to Newbury Park) at Azusa Pacific University, a spacious venue, last season.
Still, the Cowboys’ excitement may grow when they get to the arena.
“When you step in the building, that’s the game changer,” said Haayer, whose team has gone 1-2 against the Vikings this year. “They see how real everything is and how big everything is. The minute you step foot in that facility everything changes.”
Both teams must now navigate a week of strictly practice before playing the biggest game of the season.
Mike said the Vikings would stick to their regimen of on-court work, weight-room training and film sessions, but would look to do some extra running in the middle of the week.
Canyon, Haayer said, will mimic in some ways the week off it had before its playoff opener, due to a bye, with Haayerjumping in to play against her team in some drills.
General admission tickets at Honda Center will be $20. Students with a school ID can get in for $12, with children age 5 to 13 also $12.
Parking is $20.
It will be the first All-Santa Clarita Valley girls hoops CIF final since 2006 when Hart beat Canyon at The Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.