Coin flip gives Canyon first round bye, Valencia road game for playoffs

Valencia's Chidinma Ikonte (3) steals the ball from Hart's Haylyn Ngyuen (13) at half-court to get a breakaway layup at Valencia on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Sometime around 6 p.m. Friday, a coin turned over and over and landed in Canyon High girls basketball’s favor. The impact reverberated Sunday when the CIF-Southern Section released the Division 1AA playoff bracket.

Canyon (18-9) — co-Foothill League champion with Valencia and the league’s No. 1 seed after the flip — earned a first-round bye and a home game Saturday.

Valencia received a trip to Canyon High of Anaheim in Thursday’s first round and would then have to go on the road in the second round, too, with a win.

MORE PLAYOFF INFO: Girls soccer / Boys soccer

Both teams’ coaches, though, seem to feel the same way: Games will be decided on the court.

“We had a bye last year, and I wasn’t particularity excited about it,” said Valencia coach Jerry Mike. “We’re on the road, but I’m excited about playing, and the girls are, too, I think.”

Said Canyon coach Jessica Haayer of the flip, “It’s huge, I guess. You never know. Playoffs can go either way. No matter if you get that bye or not, every game is so crucial.”

A bye, Haayer said, presents a different kind of challenge, one of keeping a team sharp without playing for seven days.

Canyon’s Talia Taufaasau (3) shoots against Saugus defender Carly Roberts (22) at Saugus on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

She said the key will be keeping the Cowboys, who will play the winner of Vista Murrieta and North High of Torrance, energized and excited without burning them out.

“We have to mix it up and try different things,” she said, adding that the team would go five-one-five and that Haayer, who played at Humbolt State, might jump in on a scrimmage.

Valencia (22-5) finished No. 1 in the final Division 1AA poll after a host of the division’s top teams moved to the Open Division.

Still, the Vikings will travel to face North Hills League champion Canyon (16-9).

Mike said the Comanches are led by a trio of guards who “like to penetrate and kick,” creating three-point opportunities.

The Vikings are led by Kayla Konrad, who scored 39 points in the Foothill League finale Friday. The point total was reported as the new record for points in a Foothill League girls game. But it was later discovered that former Hart player Anjanette Dionne scored 41 points for the Indians against Alhambra (then a Foothill team) in 1990.

Konrad said after Friday’s rout of Hart that the Vikings weren’t worried about making the Open Division, which they barely missed out on.

Mike gave a similar answer Monday.

“I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t try to let any of that get into what we were doing,” he said. “I scheduled hard, tough games to prepare my team.”

With a win Thursday, Valencia would travel to West High of Torrance for a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, a two-point Valencia loss.

Hart, the Foothill League’s third-place team, will travel to Buena of Ventura (20-6) on Thursday. The Indians have played the Bulldogs the last three seasons, losing each time.

Still, coach Terra Palmer said she wasn’t disappointed with the matchup.

She also expected her team to bounce back from Friday’s loss.

“Everything that happened before today is irrelevant,” she said. “It’s 0-0 again. … The playoffs is a whole new beast. It doesn’t

matter what anybody did. Only what you do.”

Other Santa Clarita Valley girls hoops first-round action Thursday

Le Lycee of L.A. at Trinity in a wild-card game (D5A); Tarbut V’ Torah of Irvine (7-6) at SCCS (D6); and Cornerstone Christian of Wildomar (11-5) vs Einstein (12-8) (D6).

Einstein game is at Highland Hall in Northridge.

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