When assessing teams expected to contend for a Foothill League title this season, Golden Valley’s name wasn’t tossed around a whole lot.
“Most people had us at the bottom of the league,” said Grizzlies coach Larry Keys. “I saw there were some predictions that said we might even go 0-10 in league.”
Well, that won’t be an issue.
Golden Valley is already out to a 2-1 start in league play, including a road win over Saugus on Tuesday night. Saugus had just come off an overtime win over West Ranch.
The Grizzlies (7-10 overall, 2-1 Foothill League) beat Canyon last Friday, with their only loss coming to Hart, which is out to a 3-0 start.
“I don’t think the kids think they’re sneaking up on anybody,” Keys said. “They’re a confident group. We struggled to start the season because we didn’t have the same group of kids we were expecting.
“They’re learning what it takes.”
Jhani Levias has been a breakout talent for the Grizzlies. The 6-foot-4 sophomore forward had 25 points and 13 rebounds against Saugus and went for 21 points and 12 rebounds against Canyon.
“He kind of came out of nowhere,” said Keys of Levias, who started the year on the JV team. “He does a lot of the hard-hat work for us down on the block.”
Colt Cangemi has given them a presence from 3-point range, scoring 20 points while hitting six 3s in Tuesday’s win.
Keys said Micah McLuarin has been the team’s MVP thus far in league play thanks to his defensive prowess and had five blocks and 10 rebounds in the win over Canyon.
As Keys alluded to, the Grizzlies didn’t enter the season with the roster they were expecting. That had to do with the transfer of Richard Kawakami – a second-team All-Foothill League contributor last season – to Valencia.
Golden Valley travels to play Valencia on Friday.
“It’s a circle game. I think that goes without saying,” Keys said. “ … I think the kids are going to be a little more excited, a little more jazzed. That can work against you, though. That can make an open jumper a two-foot airball. We’ve been working on controlling the emotions.”
SCCS’ Starr sets record
Jordan Starr has already logged two triple-doubles this season and added a school record Thursday to what’s been a phenomenal season.
Starr, who transferred from Village Christian in the offseason, scored 56 points in a 110-24 win over Guidance Charter, which set the school’s single-game record.
The Cardinals (8-8, 4-0 Heritage League) have been on a roll since entering league play, winning six of their last seven, which included a 73-48 nonleague win over Valencia on Jan. 6.
SCCS plays Trinity Classical Academy at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at The Master’s University.
West Ranch with chance to rebound
West Ranch went into Foothill League action as a contender for a league title but has dropped back-to-back games following a league-opening win against Canyon.
The Wildcats have already endured some hardships this season, with coach Shant Bicakci resigning in early December citing personal reasons. They’ll have a shot to make amends for the sluggish start Friday with a home date against Hart (16-5, 3-0 Foothill League). The Indians are the only undefeated team left in the Foothill League.
Austin Galuppo had 27 points in the win over Canyon on Jan. 9 and had 18 points to go with eight rebounds in a loss to Valencia on Tuesday. Josh Paz had 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Vikings.