No team had a bigger cheering section than Valencia girls basketball at a Burroughs summer league game in late June at Burroughs High.
The loudest voices in the group came from Jade Jordan and Kenadee Honaker, two recent graduates who were playing alongside those on the court just a few months ago.
“It hyped me up when I saw them,” said Valencia rising senior Chyanne Pagkalinawan. “I wanted to show them, like, we’re trying to pick up from last year.”
The Vikings have a lot of success to follow up on after a season that included a co-Foothill League title and a CIF-SS Division 1AA title, the first CIF crown in program history.
Now-graduated players Kayla Konrad (the CIF-SS D1AA Player of the Year), Ashlee Ane, Honaker and Jordan were each key in reaching postseason glory.
This summer is about finding a way to reach that same level without them.
“(It’s) very hard,” said Skylar Ingram, a rising sophomore, after a Burroughs summer league game. “There’s not someone to look to that many times. They were always there to help us through the hard times, and they were always there to coach me when I needed help.”
Establishing a new competitive drive not just in games but also in practices is an objective for Valencia as the summer progresses.
“Getting better, you just have to compete very hard all the time, and it’s just something that a lot of them aren’t used to,” said coach Jerry Mike. “But they’ll get there.”
Pagkalinawan and Ingram are two returners that can push those around them to get better.
Last season in her junior campaign, Pagkalinawan averaged 9.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
“I feel like I have to take more responsibility this year because the four seniors are gone, and so I kind of need to fill in some of the spots,” she said.
Ingram, who is over 6 feet tall, is learning to channel her height and focus her aggressiveness on the court to be a more productive player.
“Ever since I started actually starting and getting more time to play, I’ve seen myself get better and better and more confident,” Ingram said. “I think I’m getting better, and I’ve just got to keep playing hard.”
Mike said that he’s considering three freshmen to join the team in the upcoming season and also noted that the junior varsity team looks strong, too.
“It’s been kind of hard, but we have really good shooters on this team,” Pagkalinawan said. “Everybody’s been saying that Valencia’s going to go down this year. But we want to prove them wrong and pick up our intensity from last year.”