TORRANCE — Valencia High’s Kenadee Honaker admitted after her team’s 61-46 road win over West High of Torrance on Saturday night that the Vikings’ minds might have wandered a bit in the fourth quarter as the Warriors cut a 25-point deficit in half.
There was a lot to think about.
There was the first quarter when Valencia outscored the Warriors by 20.
There was the spot-on shooting, the aggressive defense, the ferocious rebounding.
Ultimately, there was the avenging of a two-point loss to West in last season’s quarterfinals and the advancing to this year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA quarterfinals (Wednesday against Los Alamitos at Valencia).
But like the Taylor Swift song, this was better than revenge: this was the imposing of one team’s will on another.
Kayla Konrad led Valencia with 23 points, Jade Jordan followed with 16 points and Chyanne Pagkalinawan added 11.
“I think we were super fired up knowing this was a game to show them who we are,” said Honaker, who chipped in nine points.
The Vikings (24-5) have been gifted no shortage of motivation in these playoffs.
After winning a co-Foothill League title with Canyon but losing a coin flip to the Cowboys, Valencia has gone on the road for the first two rounds.
The Vikings went to Canyon of Anaheim on Thursday and rolled the Comanches. Then they rolled that momentum into Saturday’s rematch with West (16-10).
But the Warriors, champions of the Pioneer League, didn’t go down easy.
West cut a 25-point deficit to 13 with 2:30 to play in the fourth, temporarily igniting its fan base.
“I think we were getting excited, us who played last year, we were thinking back to last year, how we finally got redemption,” Honaker said. “I think we really needed to slow down and play Valencia basketball.”
Valencia blocked three straight Warrior shots and rattled off six points at the other end. There would be no comeback.
Not on a night when the Vikings ratcheted up their intensity.
“It was high, very high — about as intense as you can be to play the game of basketball,” said coach Jerry Mike.
“… I think they remembered, I really do,” Mike said referencing last year’s 43-41 loss to West at Valencia.
The Vikings had 41 points Saturday before five minutes ran off the clock in the third quarter.
“As soon as we hit shots and find people that are open, I think we are pretty unstoppable, personally,” Honaker said.