By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Four Foothill League boys’ basketball teams entered the Big Valley Summer Classic on Tuesday. Dozens of games were spread out over several gyms for day one of the tournament.
Saugus, Golden Valley, Valencia and Canyon entered the day with tough matchups.
Valencia wins thriller over Westlake, 67-62
The Vikings played in one of the tightest games in the first round. A combination of great defense on both sides and a bulk of missed 3-point shots led to no scoring for the first two and a half minutes.
Valencia got in the hole as they couldn’t get it going from behind the arc, but eventually came alive on defense. The Vikings’ defense staggered the Warriors and led to a ton of blocked shots. Valencia’s athleticism in the transition game was on full display and the Vikings went on a 14-3 run.
Valencia would go into the half with a decent 7-point lead but Westlake quickly closed the gap. The Warriors kept finding the open man and kept hitting timely threes while the Vikings kept hammering the ball inside. The teams exchanged blow after blow and it looked like whoever had the ball last would win.
Late in the game, the Vikings exploded for several threes to keep them in the game and, after a handful of Westlake misses, Valencia took control.
“We’re adjusting our offense to the personnel we have,” said Valencia head coach Bill Bedgood. “Just putting the work in, getting better with it, getting to know it. We look good when we’re getting stops.”
The Vikings are having a great summer and are currently undefeated when at full strength. The team will match up with their familiar foe in Saugus on Thursday.
“I just want to be more organized and run [plays],” said Bedgood. “We can rely on athleticism but that’s going to catch up to you against a really good team.
Harvard-Westlake hammers Canyon, 77-48
Canyon had one of the toughest first-round matchups of the tourney. The much smaller and less physical Cowboys had a tough task in the Wolverines.
Canyon didn’t look scared and started off well. The Cowboys played great defense, forcing some tough shots. They also managed to break into the Harvad-Westlake paint but the size of the Wolverines managed to force tough shots.
It looked like it could be a close game early until Harvard-Westlake sparked and went on a 19-0 run. The Wolverines would go into the half up 21.
The Cowboys kept the same intensity on defense all game and never played like a team down big. However, the first-half run was too much to overcome for Canyon, which now heads left on the bracket.
Canyon has played in a ton of summer games and will hope to get all the experience they can for a team full of new faces.
The Cowboys will get another chance at victory when they play Highland at El Camino Real on Wednesday at 8:10 p.m.
Saugus takes down Taft at home, 61-58
While it wasn’t a true home game for Taft, they were the only team playing on their home court on Tuesday.
However, the Centurion defense held strong and forced numerous Toreador turnovers. Saugus also did a great job breaking into the paint and finding the open man for easy buckets.
The Centurions would lose their grip on a big lead with three minutes left in the game. The Taft offense broke out on a 9-0 run.
“All of those guys are not used to those situations. It’ll take some time because they don’t have that experience,” said Saugus head coach Alfredo Manzano.
The Toreadors forced a turnover leading to an easy layup to cut the lead to one point. The Centurions shot well from the free throw line and didn’t collapse under pressure. The points from the foul line forced a half-court heave from Taft as the clock expired. It was a clean look that just missed from 50 feet, but Saugus prevailed as the ball went off the backboard.
Saugus did not look like an inexperienced team and with Manzano at the helm, they should be prepared for anyone.
The Centurions will get a Foothill League matchup in the second round with Valencia at Taft on Thursday at 7:20 p.m.
“It doesn’t really matter. I think we can get some stuff out of a win or a loss,” said Manzano. “On the bright side you get to see what your opponents (have) got.”
Golden Valley advances after near-brawl with AGBU
After the Grizzlies took a 25-21 lead over the Armenian General Benevolent Union, opposing players got tangled up. The situation quickly escalated and nearly got out of hand. The game was called off and Golden Valley would move on as winners.
Golden Valley will now move on to face Paraclete at St. Genevieve on Thursday at 7 p.m.