Valencia girls basketball keeps Hart at bay to notch second league win

Hart's Emily Munoz (21) shoots against Valencia defender Leilani Manuel (35) at Valencia on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

In front of a raucous crowd, Hart girls basketball gave the Vikings all they could handle in a Foothill League game at Valencia High on Thursday.

Matching Valencia’s intensity, Hart was able to push the ball and sparking fast breaks throughout the game, but just couldn’t take the lead down the stretch falling 47-39.

“We came out and played hard and we were aggressive early and that’s something that we have been struggling with this year so that was encouraging,” said Hart head coach Terra Palmer. “Unfortunately, our execution wasn’t as good as we would have liked it to be. You’ve got to play hard and play focused but we have to execute.

“I was very happy about the effort. Our girls always give 100 percent and we never leave anything out there, but we do have to execute so we can continue to get better.”

Valencia (5-6 overall, 2-0 in Foothill League) held a slim 14-11 lead after the first quarter utilizing its size down low with Skylar Ingram and Mailey Ballard to get buckets inside the paint.

Ballard led the Vikings in scoring with 14 points. Ingram was second with 10 points.

Hart countered with its guard play as Emily Muñoz and Emma Allen were able to drive into the paint and knock down shots on the perimeter.

At the half, Valencia led 22-15.

With a frontcourt combination of Ballard, Ingram and either Lea or Leilani Manuel the Vikings forced the Indians into settling for long shots deep into the shot clock, essentially taking away their dribble-drive penetration.

“I was really happy with Skylar especially down the stretch,” said Valencia head coach Kevin Honaker. “She had a lot of blocked shots and did a great job at rebounding. Our forwards did their job and rebounded today. Unfortunately, our guards failed in their job in rebounding and that was our emphasis. But Skylar is going to be a big part of our success this year.”

Making a run in the fourth quarter, Allen brought Hart to within six points after scoring or assisting on eight-straight points, bringing the Vikings’ lead to 39-33 with 3 minutes, 24 second left in the game.

The Vikings pulled away down the stretch to improve to 2-0 in Foothill League play.

Valencia plays again on Saturday in Battle by the Beach at St. Bonaventure. Hart picks up back again in the La Canada Holiday Tournament against Village Christian on Wednesday.

Saugus 71, West Ranch 25

Jumped out to a 57-13 lead at halftime, the Wildcats took care of business in the second to secure their first league win of the season.

Libbie McMahan had 22 points in the win, Monique Febles finished with 16 and Maliah Sourgose and Eden MacKenzie scored 11 and 8 points, respectively.

Canyon 49, Golden Valley 48

Cowboys Chidinma Okafor had 16 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks, Lucy Collins finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and three steals and Julia Fung dished out five assists and nine steals in the Canyon win.

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