Valencia High girls basketball played like a team running out of time.
Yes, the Vikings’ 2016-17 campaign was a Showtime-esque montage of ball movement, Jade Jordan 3-pointers, Ashlee Ane drives to hoop and Kayla Konrad coast-to-coast buckets.
But Valencia won the program’s first-ever CIF title with ferocity borne of one final opportunity.
Jordan, Ane, Konrad and Kenadee Honaker formed a quartet of four-year varsity players who despite talent and chemistry, had never been past the quarterfinals.
“We knew it was our last time playing together,” Honaker said. “This year was different knowing whatever we did this year, it would be our last.”
It came as no surprise, then, that Valencia came to play at West Torrance in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA second round on Feb. 18.
The Warriors had upset Valencia in the quarters the year before. But not on this night.
The Vikings held West to single digit scoring in the first quarter, after which they led by 20 points.
The final was 61-46. It was not that close. Valencia coach Jerry Mike figured his team had played with as much intensity as he’d ever seen in a basketball game.
“It was high, very high,” he said.
And the Vikings never let up.
So, as much as Konrad’s 25-plus points per game in the Southern Section playoffs were crucial. So too were the senior’s efforts in man-to-man defense against Canyon High’s 6-foot-3 Rachel Bowers in the championship game.
So too were Honaker’s and Chyanne Pagkalinawan’s steals at the top of the team’s active defensive zone.
So too was Ane’s ability to defend multiple positions.
In the CIF final on March 4, taking on a rival Canyon High team that dropped 64 points on Valencia a month earlier, Mike forsook his staple zone for more man-to-man than the Vikings had played in any game all year.
Konrad matched Bowers physicality in the post, holding the Canyon star to a quiet 10 points.
Konrad’s teammates matched her effort even as the Cowboys stormed back. Valencia won 50-45.
“We always said defense wins games, and the offense will come,” Konrad said. “Everyone wants to give 100 percent all the time. That helped us – not just the starters, but the reserves, when they came in, they brought up the energy, too.”
The foremost reserve was Chidinma Ikonte, who provided valuable minutes after Jordan suffered a head injury in the CIF final. But Skylar Ingram, Tiana Beale, Nicole Weatherman and Bri Coleman contributed, too.
“This is about as a good a group of girls basketball players that have come through Valencia,” said Vikings Athletic Director Brian Stiman. “As a group they played so well together, and they respected each other so much.”
They earned the respect of the valley and the Southern Section in the process.
Inside the Ballot Box
|Valencia girls basketball||10||0||1||11|
|Saugus cross country||5||3||0||8|
|West Ranch cross country||0||3||1||4|
|Golden Valley football||0||3||0||3|
Former Teams of the Year
2015-16 — Saugus girls cross country
2014-15 — Saugus girls cross country
2013-14 — Saugus boys cross country
2012-13 — Saugus girls cross country
2011-12 — Saugus girls cross country and Golden Valley boys cross country
2010-11 — Saugus girls cross country
2009-10 — Saugus girls cross country
2008-09 — Saugus girls cross country
2007-08 — No award given
2006-07 — Canyon football
2005-06 — Canyon football