It was an up-and-down affair at Burbank High School on Thursday night as the Valencia boys basketball team took on Ventura in the quarterfinals of the Burbank Tournament.
The Vikings and Cougars exchanged blows throughout the contest with the lead changing hands several times, but Valencia came out on top 89-80 to advance to the semifinals.
The Vikings were lead by senior Jayden Trower who finished with 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field, eight rebounds, a steal and a block.
Trower was all over the floor, hustling for loose balls and cleaning up the glass, even turning an offensive rebound into a thunderous slam.
“Jayden has been a monster the last two games. He’s getting out of the gates early and quickly and he held it together for us,” said Valencia head coach Bill Bedgood. “We’re down and he’s the only one scoring. We went into the half with one guy in doubles figures, but we finished with four.”
The other three Vikings to score in double figures were Richard Kawakami, Jake Hlywiak and Nader Hussein.
Kawakami struggled with his shot in the first half scoring only four points, but he finished the contest with 20 after finding his rhythm in the second half.
Even when his shot wasn’t falling in the first half, Kawakami was making a huge impact on the game. Whether it was crashing the boards, finding his open teammates or breaking Ventura’s press by speeding past his defenders, Kawakami was a crucial cog in the victory.
“What doesn’t he do? He can post you, he can beat you off the dribble. He took over the game at a crucial time when it could have gone either way,” Bedgood said. “He’s making plays on both ends of the floor. He’s doing so many good things you can’t take him out.”
“I just do what my team needs me to do,” Kawakami said. “Whatever I need to do to get the ‘W,’ that’s what I do. Do the dirty work.”
Kawakami also recorded seven boards and six assists.
One of those assists came at the beginning of the third period with Valencia trailing. Kawakami found Hussein beyond the arc who drilled the 3-pointer and gave the Vikings a momentary boost.
Hussein started for Josh Assiff, who missed the game due to illness. Hussein shot 3-for-4 from downtown and finished with 13 points.
“It was very crucial. We don’t win the game if the other guys don’t step up,” Bedgood said. “Having Nader come in and start, getting double digits, that’s probably the difference in the game.”
“All I can say is credit to my teammates,” Hussein said. “They made the extra pass, doing all the little things to get me the shot. I’m just there to hit it.”
Hlywiak also came up big beyond the arc, hitting 4-of-6 long bombs. He finished the contest with 20 points, four rebounds and two steals.
He also completed a rare 4-point play.
“I know they’re shooters. I know they are going to knock it down,” Kawakami said of Hlywiak and Hussein. “I put my trust in them and just find them. That’s what it comes down to, getting them in the positions they like and they do the rest. Credit to them.”
Kevin Konrad and Grant Kim also provided solid minutes off the bench with the two combining for six points and nine rebounds.
Nick Jenney rounded out the scoring with six points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field. He also had three assists and two rebounds.
Valencia moves to 3-1 on the season and will look to continue its dominating performances so far at the Burbank Tournament.
“We’ve just got to build off of this,” Kawakami said. “We’re going to have shootaround tomorrow, stay focused. It’s one game at a time. Let’s just get the ‘W’ and move on.”
Canyon earns first win of the season
Despite missing two of its starters, the Canyon boys basketball team notched its first win of the season, defeating Los Angeles High School 65-24 in the consolation bracket of the Burbank Tournament.
Junior point guard Anthony Gallo led the way with 14 points and freshman Matt Heyne and junior Ethan Rodi added nine points apiece.
Ryan Sloan and Aaron Berko each had eight points.