Valencia boys earn crucial league win over Canyon


People have told Zach Hawkins to change his shot.

They’ve urged the Valencia High junior to tweak what looks, at least to the naked eye, like a two-handed finish.

He hasn’t.

Canyon wishes he would.

Hawkins made seven 3-pointers Friday night, three during a soul-crushing third-quarter run that erased a five-point deficit and lifted the Vikings to a crucial 63-56 Foothill League win over the Cowboys at home.

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Hawkins found himself wide open for his final trey and bounded back down the court, palms to the sky.

“I made that shot and I was just feeling it,” said Hawkins, who finished with 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting from behind the arc. “My emotions and my actions flowed through me. I didn’t have control of what I was doing.”

Tell that to Canyon after Hawkins surgically picked them apart.

He made three 3-pointers in a two-minute span as part of a 19-3 Vikings run to close the third quarter. Canyon climbed within seven with 31 seconds to play, but Cowboys players couldn’t hear coach Alex Dunwoody yelling to foul, and Valencia (13-11 overall, 5-3 in Foothill) ran out the clock.

Valencia’s Dexter Akanno and Jayden Trower scored 14 points apiece.

Yvan Yomba had 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting (9-12 free throws) to lead Canyon (5-19 overall), which might be the most capable 0-8 team in Foothill League history.

The Cowboys have tested contenders Golden Valley, West Ranch, Hart and now Valencia. But the Vikings, like the other three, kept their wits and won.

Defensive stops and transition offense keyed Valencia’s furious finish to the third. Then the Vikings made five straight shots to open the fourth, building a 13-point lead on Hawkins’ final 3-pointer at the 5:21 mark.

“We locked down defensively and got stops,” said Valencia coach Chad Phillips. “(Canyon) did great job shooting the ball in the first half. We knew we had to make adjustments, and we did.”

Turnovers and Yomba’s free throws kept it interesting, but Valencia closed to stay in second place, tied with Saugus.

“We were right there most of the game,” Dunwoody said. “… Zach Hawkins made three or four threes which put us in a tough spot.”

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