By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Foothill League girls’ hoops has had a highly competitive year, with four teams posting winning records. Both Canyon and Hart are just a few wins away from potentially meeting each other in the Division 3AA CIF Southern Section championship game. The teams split games this year, both losing at home in a one-score game.
An exciting year of Foothill league boys’ basketball completely came to a halt on Tuesday, as the three remaining teams of West Ranch, Saugus and Canyon were all eliminated from postseason play.
Canyon girls down La Canada on the road 44-29
The Cowboys (22-8, 9-1) are playing great postseason basketball, winning again by double digits, most recently in their win over the La Canada Spartans (15-7, 7-3).
Canyon was led by sophomore Josie Regez with 13 points. Koko Booker followed with 11.
La Canada has been a better road team but posted a subpar 5-4 record at home.
Canyon is a well-traveled team and took all the momentum of their now five-game win streak, with the last four being double-digit victories.
Canyon head coach Jessica Haayer was proud of her team’s defensive performance.
“My kids played well,” said Haayer. “They held a team that can score, to 29 points.”
Canyon now moves on in 3AA to face the hosting Cerritos on Saturday.
Hart girls dominate Anaheim 74-40
The Hart Indians showed no signs of trouble running the visiting Anaheim Colonists (21-7, 10-0) out of the gym.
Center Kayla Hourigan was a problem for the Colonists as the senior had her way all game, pouring in 31 points. Freshman Morgan Mack scored 16 points in her second CIF playoff game.
The Indians will now have their first postseason road Division 3AA matchup with Summit on Saturday.
Trinity girls run all over visiting Dos Pueblos 54-32
The Trinity Classical Knights jumped up to a double-digit lead over the visiting Dos Pueblos Chargers early in the first quarter and never let up.
Knights’ point guard Lily Caddow led the way with 20 points and two steals.
Trinity’s playoff defense has been overpowering for opponents. The team has yet to win a postseason game by less than 10 under second-year coach James De Monbrun.
Last year’s 5A state champs are playing great in 3A even though the team did not get a full offseason. The Knights won the state championship last June in a COVID-19-plagued season and were back in the gym for this season by November.
Trinity heads to Holy Martyrs Armenian on Saturday.
West Ranch girls lose in Rialto 54-48
The Knights (20-3, 7-0) were a tough draw for the Wildcats (16-14, 3-7), who rebounded after losing their first five games this season.
Rialto has been perfect at home all season. However, West Ranch came closer than anyone to knocking off the Knights at home in a close 4AA playoff battle.
The team will graduate key seniors in: Elizabeth Shimizu, Elora Kawasawa and Samantha Bernal, who were all a part of West Ranch winning its last five before Rialto. It was the program’s first winning season in nine years.
Nadia Bernal and Alanna Topete will be a big part of next year’s squad when West Ranch aims to re-enter the postseason.
Canyon boys beat at home by Oak Hills 61-49
The Canyon Cowboys (18-9, 8-4) had a successful year, marking the program’s first playoff win and winning record in six seasons. Unfortunately, the run was cut short by a lengthy Oak Hills squad that ended the Cowboys’ season with a final of 61-49. Oak Hills crashed the offensive glass well and got to the free throw line to help build a big enough lead to hold off Canyon.
Seven seniors now will graduate and leave the team, including Matt Heyne who is committed to play at Lake Forest. Most of the other seniors are considering offers for the chance to play at the next level. But, win or lose, Cowboys’ head coach Ali Monfared was proud of the team’s finish.
“This group did a good job of getting Canyon basketball where it should be,” said Monfared. “They play so unselfishly and they play so hard.”
The team will now head into the offseason with a lot of gaps to fill next year. But Monfared is confident in his returning players. Lincoln Phillips, Reese Valdes and Tyler Best are some of the upcoming seniors who Monfared will entrust to help guide his team. The team may have a lot of new faces but the mission stays the same.
“When teams play Canyon, they know they are going to play a good defensive team,” Monfared said.
St. Bernard boys complete comeback and downs visiting West Ranch, 69-67
Another perfect Foothill League season came to an end earlier than expected for the Wildcats. West Ranch (21-8, 12-0) has now won 22 straight Foothill League matchups and looked like a serious threat to go deep into the playoffs.
However, the young team let a five-point lead slip away with a minute left in the game through turnovers and missed free throws. The Wildcats missed 12 total free throws and lost a heartbreaker, 69-67 to St. Bernard. Junior Andrew Meadow finished with 23 points while freshman Bryce Cofield posted 17 points, five steals and three assists.
“I’m not going to call it a failure because we have a lot to be proud of,” said West Ranch head coach Jeff Bryant. “But, last night we beat ourselves.”
West Ranch faced a challenging schedule, playing numerous top-ranked teams in the nation as well as Foothill League teams where no win comes easy.
“Our guys were battle-tested, but we could not find a way to pull it all together,” said Bryant.
The team will return the bulk of their scoring in Meadow, James Evans and Jaqari Miles, giving them an edge in pursuit of another Foothill League championship.
Saugus boys lose tight matchup with Cajon, 63-58
The Centurions had a miraculous season come to an end at the hands of the Cajon Cowboys.
It was a close fight throughout, but some costly turnovers had this game slip away from the Centurions.
Saugus lost their leading scorer in Nathan Perez early in the year but, led by head coach Alfredo Manzano, the team rallied and adjusted. Manzano’s team would win 12 of their last 16 games, including the program’s first playoff win in five years before dropping to Cajon.
The Centurions will look to keep the program momentum moving as the team loses multiple seniors to graduation this year.
“It’s a special group of guys that believe every time they’re going to step on the floor, [they’ll] win,” said Manzano.