Valencia High’s Kayla Konrad made two free throws with under 10 seconds remaining Saturday night, and Chaminade of West Hills missed two shots on its final possession before the Vikings escaped with a 57-56 win, advancing to tonight’s CIF Division 2 regional semifinal at Mater Dei of Santa Ana at 6 p.m.
Still, when asked about Valencia’s historic playoff run, now seven games long, coach Jerry Mike didn’t use words like exhausting, grey-hair producing or nerve-racking.
“This is really fun,” he said. “It’s totally challenging scouting these teams and prepping for them. … The approach has been the same. The girls’ focus has been great. It’s been a great time. A good time to be a coach. All these high-stake game and the team coming through. They’re just great to work with. It’s been really fun.”
Valencia (29-5), which reached the first CIF-Southern Section semifinal in program history before winning the Division 1AA title against Canyon on March 4, now faces likely its toughest test of the season.
Mater Dei is 22-8, is ranked 18th in the state according to MaxPreps and features Duke-bound Jayda Adams, a 5-foot-11 wing.
“They’re up-tempo. They really like to press,” Mike said. “They show about three different presses. They want to speed the game up for sure.”
“They’re strong inside. They have a couple forwards who are really good defenders. They’re a strong defensive team. They play mostly man (defense). We did see some trapping zone in the half court, too.”
Valencia will look for another balanced performance. Against Chaminade, Konrad scored 17 points, Ashlee Ane provided 14, Chyanne Pagkalinawan scored 12 and Kenadee Honaker had seven.
Chidinma Ikonte, normally a reserve, played all 32 minutes as Jade Jordan missed her second straight game due to the concussion she suffered against Canyon.
Jordan will miss tonight’s game, Mike said.
Ikonte scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds against Chaminade. She’ll play a big role tonight as well.
If Valencia wins, it would play the winner of Orangewood Academy of Garden Grove and Independence of Bakersfield on Saturday.