Canyon girls hoops can’t hold onto lead against Pasadena; Valencia advances

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Heading into the fourth quarter in Canyon girls basketball’s first round CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA playoff game against Pasadena at Pasadena High on Monday, the Cowboys looked in good position to advance holding a six-point lead.

The Bulldogs fought tooth and nail on the defensive end and with 4:45 left in the game erased the lead to take a lead of their own after an 8-0 run to begin the quarter.

Chidinma Okafor fouled out with under four minutes to go coupled with multiple Cowboys turnovers, and Canyon just couldn’t get the momentum back on its side and fell 48-38.

“One-two-three is fine, but we can’t seem to get it together in the fourth quarter,” said Canyon head coach Jessica Haayer. “We let teams out-play us and claw back. It’s not surprising because if you look back to league games, it’s the same scenario.”

The Cowboys (18-11 overall) seemed unstoppable in the game’s opening minutes using their length inside on both ends to hold a 5-0 lead with under six minutes to go in the quarter.

Jwamee Advincula probed the Pasadena defense and dropped it down low to either Lucy Collins or Okafor as the two worked high-low ball screens and dove toward the basket at a moment’s notice.

Collins recorded a double-double and led the team in scoring with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Okafor missed out on a triple double with nine points, six rebounds, seven blocks and three steals.

“We were on fire, the energy was good and things were going our way,” Haayer said. “I think we didn’t get a lot of the calls that we should get, but when your 6-foot-3 it’s tough to get those calls, they expect you to get those layups.” 

Jordan Wise offered a dynamic change of pace with her her hustle and non-stop motor. She forced the Pasadena guards into several bad turnovers that led to easy buckets on the offensive end for Canyon.

“She played really well and competed,” Haayer said. “We ask them regularly to compete and she did that on both ends. She was super-patient on the offensive end and on the defensive end she chased everything.”

Wise had eight points, seven rebounds and two steals in the game. 

Pasadena (18-6) got within two points just before the halftime whistle, down 20-28, but a Collins rebound and outlet to Wise gave the Cowboys a 22-18 lead at the half.

Both teams struggled to score in the second half due to stout, physical defense. 

Pasadena’s Kameria Piggee and Olivia Hodges did their best to out-muscle Collins and Okafor downlow, while Sheridan Orange and Amanda Williams pestered the Cowboys guards on the perimeter.

Piggee tied for the team-high with 10 points and three rebounds, Hodges had eight points and 12 rebounds and Williams and Orange combined for nine points, four steals and six rebounds.

The Bulldogs tied it at 26-26, but an Okafor block and Wise layup propelled the visitors to finish out the quarter on a 9-3 run and hold a six point lead after three.

Pasadena quickly erased the deficit, took a 39-37 lead on the two foul shots that disqualified Okafor with 3:35 left in the game and the Bulldogs never looked back.

“A poor performance across the board from everyone,” Haayer said of the finish. “We must have had at least six turnovers in the fourth quarter. It just seemed that we made bad decisions down the stretch.”

Pasadena will play the winner of Millikan/ Vista Murrieta at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Valencia 52, El Dorado 19

The Vikings (19-10 overall) were led by Mailey Ballard with 16 points, Marissa Howell followed with 11 and Skylar Ingram added eight points in the win against El Dorado (14-13).

Valencia will play Orangewood Academy in a CIF-SS Division 2AA second-round game at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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