By Mason Nesbitt
For The Signal
The team that rebuilt still knows how to rebound.
Valencia High girls basketball recovered from a crushing loss to Canyon earlier this week and toppled Saugus, 52-28, on the road Friday. It was a turn of events reminiscent of last season, when the Vikings lost at home to the Cowboys before making a historic run to a CIF title and then the state playoffs.
Then, four core seniors graduated, and coach Jerry Mike began shaping a roster that runs 10-deep and relies on the steady play of senior point guard Chyanne Pagkalinawan.
Pagkalinawan was at it Friday, orchestrating an offense that built an 18-5 lead after one quarter and a 24-point advantage midway through the fourth. She said the Vikings (13-10, 5-1 Foothill League) were eager to put Tuesday’s 58-33 loss to Canyon behind them.
“We thought, ‘We’re not going to dwell on the loss,’” Pagkalinawan said. “We have round two of league as a fresh start.”
The Viking defense did most of the heavy lifting, holding Saugus (16-6, 2-4) without a basket for the first 4:30 of the second quarter and making every one of the Cents’ successful trips up-court a small victory.
“That was the key: get the ball up the court and get good shots. I was extremely pleased with that,” said Saugus coach Jason Conn, whose team started the season 14-1 but has dropped five of its last seven games.
Valencia has won eight of 10 after starting 5-8 amid a tough non-league slate.
Friday, Chidinma Ikonte led Valencia with 13 points, eight coming in the second half. After playing crucial minutes late in last year’s title run, Ikonte looks more confident and aggressive. She combined with Valencia’s other bigs Friday to give the Vikings an advantage on the boards.
Teammate Tiana Beale scored 11 points. Libbie McMahan scored 16 points to lead Saugus, which will travel to West Ranch on Tuesday.
Valencia will host Hart. Ultimately, though, the Vikings are moving toward a rematch with Canyon on Feb. 9.
“They took it to us, and we need to get better,” Mike said. “What’s cool is we have another round.”
Hart 94, Golden Valley 70
The Indians’ Annie Christofferson scored 31 points and pulled down four boards. Aly Kaneshiro added 17 points and nine rebounds and Haylyn Nguyen chipped in seven points and nine assists. Lexi Carona scored 11 points.
Hart (13-10, 4-2) plays at Valencia at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The Grizzlies (11-10, 0-6) travel to Canyon on Jan. 30 for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.
Canyon 71, West Ranch 23
Talia Taufaasau recorded a triple-double with 24 points, 10 assists and 14 steals for the Cowboys (20-4, 6-0). Rachel Bowers followed with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Selasi Mawugbe had 10 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Canyon’s Gabby Sanchez was out with a sore knee, but is expected to be back for Tuesday’s game against Golden Valley.
West Ranch is 11-10 and 1-5 and hosts Saugus on Tuesday at 5 p.m.