Valencia girls hoops beats Los Alamitos for 1st semifinal berth

Valencia's Ashlee Ane (12) hugs teammate Kayla Konrad (23) after the Vikings secured their spot in the semi-finals with a win over Los Alamitos at Valencia on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Jade Jordan stopped dancing to Tupac’s “California Love” on Valencia’s court Wednesday just long enough to comment on the Vikings’ 73-53 win over Los Alamitos and their first-ever trip to a CIF semifinal.

“It. Feels. So. Great,” the senior said, a little louder with each word after the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA quarterfinal. “I can’t even, I’m shocked. I’m not shocked, but I’m at a loss for words.”

A tense, back-and-forth affair gave way to a fun, free-flowing fourth quarter as the Vikings (25-5) hit contested shots, secured loose balls and cleaned up on the boards.

PHOTOS: Valencia vs. Los Alamitos girls basketball

Jordan finished with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting (five 3-pointers). Kayla Konrad, Valencia’s all-time leading scorer as of Saturday, ruled decisively from her throne, scoring 10 of her game-high 28 points in the fourth.

She also keyed the game-sealing sequence.

Her step-back 3-pointer with a hand in her face (as the shot clock was winding down, no less) gave Valencia a 56-46 lead midway through the final frame.

On Los Alamitos’ next possession, Kenadee Honaker poked the ball away from a Griffin player and dove on it as coach Jerry Mike called timeout. On the inbound from midcourt, Ashlee Ane played quarterback and dropped a long pass into Konrad’s breadbasket.

Konrad finished despite a foul and made the free throw.

“How about that?” Mike, in his 18th year as coach, said of Konrad’s step-back.

Valencia fans sat up off there hands at that point. Mike even cracked a brief smile on the bench. No, Valencia would not lose a third straight D1AA quarterfinal.

Valencia’s Kayla Konrad (23) goes in for a layup as Los Alamitos’ Olivia Clarke (23) tries to block her during a CIF playoff basketball game at Valencia on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Instead, it will host Oaks Christian of Westlake Village at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

“With a minute to go, we were kind of like, ‘Yay, finally. We broke the curse,’” Konrad said.

It didn’t come easy.

Los Alamitos featured two precocious freshmen, Asia Avinger and Sydney Gandy, who combined for 27 points. Sophomore Cailyn Crocker regularly attacked the paint on her way to 13 more points for the Griffins (21-7), co-champions of the Sunset League. Valencia led 13-9 after the first quarter and by five at half.

Los Alamitos tied the score 32-32 three minutes into the third quarter but never led after the break.

“We picked up our energy, and we slowed it down on offense,” said Konrad, who moved to the top of Valencia’s zone with five minutes to play in order to head off Los Alamitos’ dribble penetration.

No such strategy could stop Valencia’s drive.

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