Canyon girls basketball beats Valencia for undefeated season and league title

Canyon's Talia Taufaasau (3) goes for a shot as Valencia's Mailey Ballard (2) guards her at Canyon on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The Canyon girls basketball team was tired of sharing.

Last season, the Cowboys split the Foothill League title with Valencia and battled against them throughout the season, up until a CIF-Southern Section final.

This season, after a 45-37 win over the Vikings on Friday at Canyon, the Cowboys are undefeated and alone at the top of the Foothill League.

“It feels amazing,” said senior Selasi Mawugbe. “I know the first time we won, the word I used to describe it was satisfied. But this just feels amazing … we’re glad that we’re taking this into CIF playoffs.”

The Cowboys (24-4 overall, 10-0 in Foothill League) jumped out to a 10-4 lead as the first quarter came to a close, controlling the game through tight defense and rebounding.

By halftime, Valencia (16-11, 8-2) had come within striking distance of a lead at 24-20. They then took a 26-24 lead on a Chyanne Pagkalinawan basket with 5:23 remaining in the third quarter.

A 3-pointer from Rachel Bowers and a layup from Gabby Sanchez put Canyon back on top with a 29-26 advantage.

“We just kind of focused on our game,” said Mawugbe. “We focused on controlling our offense and our defense and trying to control the pace of theirs.”

Mawugbe and Rachel Bowers were tied for first on the team with 15 rebounds apiece.

Mawugbe, in particular, had 13 offensive rebounds.

“They slacked off with her,” coach Jessica Haayer said of Mawugbe. “When you’re not guarding somewhere, you’re out of position, it allows you to get (offensive) boards and she did her job and if she wasn’t going to hit the shot, she was going to clean it up and give us another chance at it.”

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For the Vikings, Pagkalinawan scored nine points and had three steals. Chidinma Ikonte added eight oints and 10 rebounds, while Tiana Beale scored eight.

Valencia finishes the season second in the Foothill League standings. CIF-SS playoff brackets for girls basketball will be released on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Despite winning by double-digits, Haayer knows that with each game played against the Vikings, the rivalry only grows.

“That rivalry will continue,” she said. “…It’s going to keep going and I’ll rebuild, they’ll rebuild and we’ll keep going and I don’t think it’ll ever die.

“But it’s going to make them fuming. Now those younger ones got a taste of it, and so now I’m sure they’re hungrier now more than ever. But so did mine.”

Valencia’s Chyanne Pagkalinawan (25) drives in toward the basket as Canyon’s Selasi Mawugbe (13) guards her at Canyon on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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