With girls basketball starting back up after the holiday break, several Santa Clarita Valley girls basketball teams have been making headlines.
Saugus continues to climb
The Centurions had a milestone win on Jan. 11, winning against Canyon High for the first time since 2012 with a 32-24 victory.
“Oh my gosh. It’s, I’m at a loss for words,” said senior Alexis Jimenez after the game. “It’s so exciting. Being a senior this year, being with this program for three years, it’s been tough to… get blown out by Canyon, and so to finally be at the same level as them and be able to beat them, it feels really good.”
It’s the latest accomplishment in a lengthy list of them for Saugus, which made it to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3A semifinals last season. The Cents have jumped up to Division 2A this season, and are holding their own with a 19-2 overall record and a 3-1 record in league.
The team returned most of last season’s roster, including point guard Monique Febles and shooter Libbie McMahan, who averaged 17.1 points per game last season.
Valencia thriving under new coach
When former coach Jerry Mike left the Valencia girls basketball program, he also left some pretty big shoes to fill. He resigned after 19 years as head coach of the Vikings, a tenure that included a 140-50 career record in the Foothill League, 19 playoff appearances, eight league titles and a CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA title in 2017.
Kevin Honaker, Mike’s successor, is already filling those shoes pretty well.
As of winter break, the Vikings were the only undefeated team left in the Foothill League, riding a powerful offense and efficient shooting, particularly beyond the arc, to the top of the standings.
“We know that’s going to be our game, we hope to shoot 20 to 30 3’s every game because we know we’re going to make 10 and that’s part of our game,” said Honaker. “We have a lot of sets that really dictate us to get good looks on the 3’s and the girls really perfect it in practice every day.”
Canyon using youth
Last season’s Foothill League champions are a well-established program, but even the best programs have to rebuild at some point.
The Cowboys return just one player this season with varsity experience in guard Ellie Villavicencio, while the remainder of the young group is rapidly adjusting to the speed of the varsity game.
Chidinma Okafor and Lucy Collins bring size to the post as both tower at 6-foot-3. Julia Fung succeeds Talia Taufaasau as point guard and brings strong decision-making abilities to the court.
At the start of the season, coach Jessica Haayer urged her team to watch basketball on television to prepare them for the season.
“NBA, college, whatever it is, just watch it,” she said. “And don’t watch the ball, because that’s what kids watch. It’s off the ball that we preach. But yeah, just learning the game. IQ is so important in this game and I think being young, they need to watch as much as they can.”
Canyon got out to a 4-6 start prior to beginning league play, showing skill that would be sharpened with experience as the team went on to begin Foothill League competition with a 3-1 record.
Trinity on unbeaten streak
Trinity Classical Academy got out to a hot start in Heritage League play, beating every league opponent in their path for a 5-0 record.
The Knights loaded up their preleague schedule with tournaments to create a tenacious team that features five seniors.
“We talk about ourselves as a moving train and every team we play is just getting in our way,” coach Daniel Hebert said. “We are on a mission this year and we want to take home the big championship.”
On Dec. 11, Trinity had one of its best defensive performances, holding cross-town rival Santa Clarita Christian scoreless for the entirety of the first half. The team can score, too, with senior and captain Hannah Caddow averaging 8.8 points per game and junior Trinity Towns averaging 8.7 points per game.
You can find more info on girls basketball in the SCV by visiting signalscv.com/sports.