Golden Valley girls basketball uses defense to overpower Malibu

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The Golden Valley girls basketball team turned the paint into its home on Wednesday afternoon against Malibu in the Northeast Valley Girls Basketball Tournament at Vaughn International Studies Academy, beating the Sharks 60-16 for their first win of the season.

Playing aggressively on both sides of the ball, the Grizzlies used their size and physicality to their advantage, particularly on defense. Cooping up the opposing teams’ offense, Golden Valley only gave up 13 points and settled in with a 43-13 lead at the break.

“From last year to this year, we’re a lot bigger,” said Kimberly Manary, a point guard/shooting guard. “And I would say that our fundamentals are a lot stronger than they were last year and we are a taller team and we’re faster.”

Malibu hit the ground running at the start of the second half matching Golden Valley’s assertive style of play in the first half. Lianne Calvo made a statement by stealing the ball, casually breaking away and capitalizing on the opportunity with a layup.

The Grizzlies started to flaunt some offensive finesse as well in the third frame. With three minutes remaining, Imani McGee shot a smooth 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 54-15 in Golden Valley’s favor.

Manary and Shyann Franklin chipped in points throughout the game with the former finishing with 18 and the latter with 10.

“It’s really beneficial,” Manary said of her team’s scoring depth. “If the guards aren’t hitting their 3’s outside, we can always look in the paint and if the middle is clogged up, we can always take it to the three back outside. So its good to have the versatility on offense.”

McGee executed a no-look pass to Cassandra Ortiz who made a layup with 1:30 left in the third then Lindsay Taian went for one final basket in the quarter to close out the scoring with three seconds to go as the Grizzlies kept a steady flow of communication going.

“That’s another thing that has increased from last year. We’re a lot more vocal on offense and defense,” Manary, who also had five steals and two assists said.

Ayana Peterson Henry scored Golden Valley’s only two points of the fourth quarter, while the defense held Malibu scoreless for the remainder of the game.

Last season, Golden Valley went 13-14 overall but only achieved one win in Foothill League play, going 1-9.

This year could be a lot different, with the Grizzlies expanding their roster from 12 players to 15 and returning five varsity players.

“We improved immensely compared to our first three games,” Manary said of the Grizzlies’ start to the season. “We came out with more energy and speed, so that really helped. And we’ve got a lot of skills.”

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