Vikes boys hoops gets back on track against West Ranch

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Valencia boys basketball left everything on the court to get back on track after its lone loss since entering league play with a 80-49 win over West Ranch Friday night at Valencia High School.

“After coming off that loss against Hart, we knew we had to turn things up and change how our mentality was,” Valencia senior JR Camacho said. “We came off of a 12-win streak and we lost that against Hart.”

Seniors Jake Hlywiak and Camacho led the Vikings (21-5 overall, 7-1 Foothill League) to a landslide victory on Senior Night. Hlywiak scored 14 points and six assists. Camacho soared, posting over a quarter of the Vikings’ total points with 24.

“I don’t think it will be our last game here, but we definitely gave it all we have” Hlywiak said of the possibility of hosting a playoff game. “You never know if you’re going to get another one here. Me, JR and all the other seniors, I think we just came together and realized this might be it so we’ve got to give it our all.”

Camacho shared similar feelings to his teammate.

“This is my last home game, probably, if we don’t get a playoff home game,” Camacho said. “It’s just a memory to have to win on Senior Night.”

Strong performances also came from seniors KJ Jones (seven points) and Kevin Konrad (five points), as well as juniors Noah Veluzat (12 points and Ryan Hoffman (four points). All four were key elements to the supporting cast.

The game may have ended in a blowout, but fans wouldn’t have guessed by how the first quarter went. The first eight minutes of the game were as tight as possible. The Vikings got the edge with a 3-pointer from senior Justin Neuman, but the Wildcats (12-13, 3-5) held the lead to one with a block from Clyde Seo with five seconds to go.

“We attacked the basket early and we got a few stops,” West Ranch head coach Jeff Bryant said.

Expectations for the game were high after the first quarter, but they quickly fell. A litany of issues for West Ranch caused a four-minute scoring drought for the Wildcats at the start of the quarter, which allowed the Vikings to extend their lead to 12 points.

“Our shot selection was a little bit suspect in the first quarter, plus our defensive intensity wasn’t great,” said Valencia head coach Bill Bedgood. “I thought that second quarter defensively got our offense going. We got some easy buckets.”

Momentum only continued to build for Valencia. It pushed its lead to 16 points. The lead would have been higher if Andrew Meadow did not give West Ranch some momentum going into halftime with a flawless 3-pointer with seven seconds left in the half.

The Vikings did experience some struggles, as small and short-lived as they were. Shots were not falling consistently in small pockets throughout the game. However, the Wildcats’ woes were much worse. 

Even when Valencia struggled, West Ranch could not capitalize. At the end of the third quarter, Valencia could not get a shot to land but eventually scored on their fifth offensive rebound on the possession with a shot from Camacho who rebounded his own miss.

“We started to play too fast,” Bryant said. “We tried to turn it into a track meet and you can’t play those guys that way.”

West Ranch continued to improve throughout the game, but it was nearly impossible to stop the Vikings when they got off to a big second quarter. However, the Wildcats can hang their hats on staying tough in a blowout contest.

They would not quit and hung tight with the Vikings only allowing 18 points and scored 16 themselves.

The final week of Foothill League basketball is just around the corner. West Ranch will head to Hart and Valencia will play at Golden Valley on Tuesday. Both games are at 6:30 p.m.

“This week I’m looking for my seniors to have fun,” Bryant said. “I want them to enjoy this last week because this high school experience, you don’t get it back.”

Saugus 65 at Golden Valley 28

Saugus (17-8 overall, 5-3 Foothill League) stayed in the hunt for the Foothill League title with a win over Golden Valley (5-18, 0-8) on Friday night.

The Centurions had two double-digit scorers in sophomore Nate Perez (12 points, four rebounds) and junior Andrew Schultz (10 points). Seniors Adrian McIntyre (eight points, five rebounds) and Cameron Nale (six points, eight rebounds), partnered by sophomore Cristian Manzano (eight points, two assists) were key components to the victory.

Junior Luka Marich remained a bright spot for Golden Valley with 10 points and two assists.

The Grizzlies will host Valencia next and Saugus will host Canyon. Both games are Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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