Valencia girls hoops finishes undefeated in Foothill League

Valencia seniot Tatyana Morris puts up a shot in a Foothill League game against Canyon at Valencia High School on Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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After Friday night’s game against Canyon, Valencia girls basketball’s Yasmine Ahllamara and Tatyana Morris came out of the locker room drenched in water.

Because what better way is there to celebrate senior night than to douse the seniors in cold water? And not only was it senior night, but after beating the Cowboys 52-38, the Vikings could finally add “undefeated” to the title of “Foothill League champions.”

It’s the first time the Vikings went undefeated in league since the 2015-16 season.

“From the beginning of the season before we played any preseason games or anything, we had a goal that we wanted to go 10-0 in league,” Ahllamara said. “Not just win league or tie because I know we lost last year to Canyon and so we just had a big goal of 10-0.”

Valencia (17-10 overall, 10-0 in Foothill League) started the scoring in the first quarter on a layup from Skylar Ingram. Canyon’s Julia Fung countered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but Audrey Field quickly regained Valencia’s lead on a jumper.

Field was filling in for Mailey Ballard, who usually starts at forward, but was nursing a leg injury. Valencia coach Kevin Honaker said keeping her out was precautionary and Ballard should be back for playoffs.

In the meantime, Field filled in admirably, scoring nine points.

“She’s ready for the moment,” Honaker said of the sophomore. “She could start on most any team and I think on our team, so she was ready. She’s fast, she’s accurate, she can shoot. She’s a great basketball player and she has two incredible years ahead of her, so that’s exciting for her to finish this.”

The Cowboys (14-14, 6-4) went on a scoring run late in the first quarter that ended with two free throws from Lucy Collins and a layup from Chidinma Okafor to tie it at 10-10.

With less than a minute to go, the Vikings jumped ahead again as Lea Manuel went in for a layup and Marissa Howell hit a 3-pointer to give Valencia a 15-10 lead going into the second quarter.

Ahllamara scored on a layup and earned an and-one opportunity at the start of the second frame, then Howell drained her second trey of the game to put the Vikings up 20-12.

Genesis Gonzalez made a three for Canyon, but the Vikings were already settled into their systems. Howell hit a jumper to give Valencia a 10-point lead and senior Tatyana Morris made a layup with seconds left to bring the score to 29-19.

“I saw the clock and then ‘Yas’ had the ball and so I was open like, right there at the basket and she passed it to me and I just put it up,” Morris said.

Collins opened the third quarter with a layup and and-one shot. Okafor followed up with two consecutive layups as the pair were constant rebounders for the Cowboys all evening.

“I tried my best to box them out but you know, they’re reading over, so I just tried my best to get them out the way and then maybe if it’s a long rebound, the guard can get it out,” Morris said.

Ahllamara also had a productive night defensively, boxing out and diving for balls when the shots weren’t falling for herself.

“I noticed my shots were super off and just as a point guard I knew that if scoring wasn’t what I was going to do tonight, I wanted to make up for it in other areas,” she said. “So it was like, whenever I saw loose balls or just like rebounds and stuff, I was just all over trying to contribute numbers in different areas that people don’t really keep track of.”

Canyon gave a solid fourth-quarter effort, particularly from Collins and Okafor. Okafor drew a foul and sank a free throw, then added and nabbed an offensive rebound for another two points afterward.

Two minutes later, Collins made a layup and earned an and-one opportunity after. With 10 seconds left, Jordan Wise took the ball and drove into the paint for a layup with some masterful dribbling.

While Valencia finishes as the undefeated Foothill League champions, Canyon ends the season in third place in the league standings behind Saugus.

Brackets for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs will be released at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

Golden Valley 66, West Ranch 41

Shyann Franklin had a double-double for the Grizzlies (9-15, 1-8) with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Cassandra Ortiz scored 12 points in addition to pulling down four rebounds and adding three assists and four steals. Kimberly Manary had 14 points and three steals.

The Wildcats finish 3-21 and 0-9 on the season.

Saugus 49, Hart 48

For the Indians (5-18, 4-6), Evelin Herrera had a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulled down 13 boards. Emily Munoz had 13 points and seven rebounds and Trudy Larkins scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

The Centurions finish second in the Foothill League standings with a record of 24-3 and 8-2, with their only two losses coming to Valencia.

Libbie McMahan scored 24 points, followed by Monique Febles with 14 points. Riley Phipps had four points, but played with “a lot of hustle,” according to coach Jason Conn.

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