Valencia senior Kayla Konrad. Photo by Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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Someone who had never before watched a basketball game might have wished Kayla Konrad would just make up her mind.

With Konrad and Valencia High leading Hart, 29-2, in the first half on Feb. 10, an errant Indians pass bounced toward the sideline and Konrad dove to the floor after it, sacrificing her body to secure the ball.

Later, as she closed in on what was thought to be the record for points scored in a Foothill League game, Konrad didn’t seem to want the ball anymore, encouraging teammates to shoot.

This, in a sense, sums up the 2017 All-Santa Clarita Valley girls basketball Player of the Year.

All out, all the time. All team, all the time.

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

But how would she like to be remembered?

“Just someone who works really hard and was about the team,” Konrad said. “I tried to be a leader this year — I hope that showed — and just family oriented with the team like I’ve said all season.”

A storybook season if there ever was one.

Konrad has been a varsity standout since her freshman year, a star since she was a sophomore.

But even as she hurtled toward the school’s scoring record — which she finally broke this postseason, surpassing Kelley Tarver’s 1,773 points — Konrad and the Vikings struggled in the postseason.

It was something like the Detroit Pistons initially failing to get past the Boston Celtics in the 80s, or the Chicago Bulls inability to immediately unseat the Pistons shortly thereafter.

The Vikings, apparently, had to earn their stripes, too.

Valencia lost by one point in the first round of the 2014 playoffs and by a combined five points in the quarterfinals in 2015 and 2016, the latter especially heart-wrenching because the Vikings had been favored against West High of Torrance at home.

It left Konrad and her trio of senior best friends (Jade Jordan, Ashlee Ane and Kenadee Honaker) one final shot at a title.

After a strong preleague run this season, the Vikings resumed dominance in the Foothill League where they’d won at least a share of the previous four titles.

Valencia beat West Ranch 82-5 in the league opener.

On Jan. 17, Konrad drove the length of the court and hit a running buzzer-beater to down Canyon 47-45.

Then came the season’s first real bump in the road. The Cowboys, tired of playing second fiddle and fumbling away games at the end, outscored the Vikings by 20 points in the second half at Valencia on Feb. 3 in a 64-48 upset.

The team’s shared the Foothill title for the third time in five years.

Valencia’s Kayla Konrad (23) reaches to save the ball from going out of bounds as she falls over Hart’s Emily Munoz (12) during a basketball game at Valencia on Feb. 10. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Then Valencia went on a tear.

Konrad scored 39 points in a rout of Hart in the regular-season finale (as it turns out the record for points in a Foothill League game is 41, set by former Hart player Anjanette Dionne in 1990).

A coin flip sent Valencia on the road for the first two rounds of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs.

No matter.

The Vikings won both, highlighted by a dominant, revenge-soaked 61-46 win over West of Torrance, in which Konrad racked up 23 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and two steals.

The game showcased why Valencia coach Jerry Mike feels Konrad is the best girls player to ever come out of the Santa Clarita Valley.

“She does it all, all the time,” he said of the UC Davis-bound senior.

Konrad’s final prep season backs up the sentiment: 21.1 points, 11.3 rebounds. 3.4 assists, three steals and a block per game.

Konrad, the Division 1AA Player of the Year, averaged 25.2 points in Valencia’s five D1AA playoff games. She scored a game-high 23 in Valencia’s 50-45 win over Canyon on March 4 in the D1AA title game at Honda Center in Anaheim — the program’s first-ever CIF title.

Most important to Konrad, of course, was who she accomplished the feat with.

“It’s super special because we talked about it since we were little kids,” Konrad said, “and just to see it finally happen and all our hard work pay off, it’s a great feeling and they’re all my best friends so it makes it even better to do it with them.”

All-SCV First team

Nicole Benz, Hart, Senior

Benz, a four-year varsity performer, had her best game of 2017 on Jan. 27 against Saugus when she posted a stat line of 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and seven steals.

Rachel Bowers, Canyon, Junior

Few players could single-handedly change a game like the 6-foot-3 Bowers. She averaged 13 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a game, leading Canyon to a co-Foothill League title and the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA title game.

Maryrose Elias, Saugus, Senior

Elias averaged 20 points, six rebounds and two assists on her way to All-CIF honors in Division 3AA. She nearly carried Saugus to a win over Heritage Christian on Dec. 23, scoring 36 points in a 65-63 loss.

Kenadee Honaker, Valencia, Senior

Honaker gave the Vikings a little of everything: outside shooting, an ability to get to the rim, gritty defense. The senior averaged nine points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.9 steals a game.

Talia Taufaasau, Canyon, Junior

When the Cowboys needed a bucket, Taufaasau was their go-to, whether it came on a drive to the basket or a pull-up jumper. The point guard averaged 11.3 points and 3.8 assists per game.

Second team

Ashlee Ane, Valencia, Senior

Ane was a factor at both ends of the court. She could guard multiple positions, and she averaged 8.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

Daisy Cardenas, Canyon, Senior

Cardenas’ three-point shooting helped stretch the floor for the Cowboys. She made four crucial treys in the first round of the CIF Division 2 state playoffs and averaged 9.3 points per game on the year.

Annie Christofferson, Hart, Junior

Christofferson got a late start, sitting out until Jan. 2 after transferring from West Ranch. But she found her lights-out scoring form. She scored 22 points in Hart’s first-round playoff win over Buena.

Chyanne Pagkalinawan, Valencia, Junior

A junior in a sea of Valencia seniors, it’d be easy to overlook this point guard. But Pagkalinawan was key to the Vikings’ title run. More confident and aggressive this year, she averaged 9.8 points and 4.1 assists.

Serene Tyus, Golden Valley, Senior

Tyus led the Grizzlies in scoring at 14.7 points per night. She scored a season-high 32 points in a preleague win over Paraclete of Lancaster on Dec. 12.

Honorable mention

Canyon – Alaina Garcia, senior

Albert Einstein Academy – Helen Rodriguez, senior

Golden Valley – Alexxys Banuelos, senior

Hart – Aly Kaneshiro, freshman

Saugus – Monique Febles, freshman

Santa Clarita Christian – Payton Schwesinger, senior

TrinityClassical Academy – Taylor Oshiro, senior

Valencia – Jade Jordan, senior

West Ranch – Eleanor McQuillen, sophomore

 

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Mason Nesbitt
Mason Nesbitt is The Santa Clarita Valley Signal's Sports Editor.
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