Golden Valley girls basketball defeat West Ranch to notch first league win of the season

Golden Valley's Isabela Ferguson (5) shoots against West Ranch at West Ranch High School on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The girls basketball rivalry between West Ranch and Golden Valley seems to grow year after year. For the past two seasons, the two teams have split their Foothill League series against one another. The last time one team had the upper hand was in the 2015-16 season when the Wildcats won both games.

So when the Grizzlies won 64-37 on Tuesday night for their first league win of the season, it was kind of a big deal.

“It felt great, we got the dub tonight, I’m so proud of my sisters, my girls, my family,” said sophomore Imani McGee. “Came out strong, had the same energy, we was hyped. And I’m just so proud of them. They make me want to cry.”

West Ranch (2-17 overall, 0-5 in Foothill League) kept it close in the first quarter, with a Jade Sanchez 3-pointer and an offensive rebound and layup from Jacqueline Paul to bring the score to 9-8 in the Grizzlies’ favor.

Kimberly Manary was at the front of Golden Valley’s offensive force, scoring nine points in the first quarter. Never afraid to dive into tough situations, Manary drove to the paint and executed a layup for a 12-8 lead at the end of the first.

Golden Valley’s Imani McGee (15) shoots against West Ranch defender Ariel Miron (42) at West Ranch on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Grizzlies (9-11, 1-4) kept the momentum rolling into the second quarter and were able to capitalize on multiple free throw chances. McGee scored eight points in the frame, half of which were from the charity stripe.

“Free throws, fouls, and 50-50 balls. If we win those battles, we will win the game and play together,” GV coach Galbert Connor said of his pregame message. “Imani is our most versatile player. She can hit the 3-ball and she can post, shoot and she can drive.”

Coming out of the locker room with a 27-9 lead, Manary stayed consistent with her shooting and aggressive play. She made two layups with and-one opportunities afterwards within two minutes.

“I’m really proud of how I did. I had to step it up. We had a lot of players who were out and injured,” Manary said. “So it feels good to just step up for the team and contribute the best I can.”

Center Shyann Franklin missed the game due to a college visit and guard Cassandra Oritz was out with a knee injury. Freshmen Ayana Peterson, Leila Tang and Lianne Calvo each filled the vacant roles and did so admirably. Peterson ended the game with six points and six assists.

“Defensively, they bring the energy we need,” Connor said. They’re like our energizer bunny, they keep going and going and going. We need that.”

The Wildcats competed throughout with a young roster of their own. Paul, one the team’s two seniors, played fearlessly to finish with nine points. West Ranch also has come to depend on freshman Elora Kawasawa, who had four points as she provided stability for the Cats all night.

“We’re extremely young,” said coach Carlos Fandino. “I have freshmen on this team who are learning the ropes and only two seniors to lead the way. And today was the first day since mid-December we had both seniors on the floor. It’s been a rough road, but there is hope.”

Golden Valley pulled away for the win in the fourth quarter, with McGee hitting a dagger from beyond the arc.

The Grizzlies continue league play on Friday, hosting Hart. West Ranch will host Canyon on the same day.

Golden Valley and West Ranch play each other once more this season on Feb. 1, which is the last game of the league season.

Valencia 62, Canyon 27
Each player on the Vikings roster scored on Tuesday evening, with Skylar Igram leading the way with 12 points and eight rebounds. Yasmine Ahllamara and Mailey Ballard each scored 10 points and Marissa Howell added nine points, six assists and five rebounds.

Valencia remains undefeated in Foothill League play at 5-0 with an 11-9 overall record. The Vikings next play Saugus at home on Friday.

Canyon is 11-12 and 3-2. The team will play at West Ranch on Friday.

Saugus 47, Hart 40
The Centurions outscored the Indians 19-6 in the fourth quarter to pull off the win. Libbie McMahan scored 15 points, followed by Eden Mackenzie with 12. Saugus improves to 20-2 and 4-1 in league with the victory.

Emily Munoz scored 24 points and had five rebounds, while Emma Allen added three points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for Hart (3-15, 2-3).

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