Valencia boys’ basketball (6-6, 2-2) got a much-needed Foothill League win on Friday in a 65-47 victory at Canyon (9-3, 1-2).
The Vikings were led by senior Kai Davis with 19 points, three assists and a steal. Senior Mikah Ballew followed Davis with 18 points, four assists and three steals.
Canyon jumped out to an 8-2 lead early with sophomore Evan Watts doing damage in the post. Watts led the team with 12 points and six rebounds. Senior Lincoln Phillips also scored 12 for the Cowboys while adding five rebounds and two steals.
Valencia eventually tightened the screws in its post defense while the offense started warming up. The Vikings would go on a 9-0 run and started pulling away from the Cowboys early.
Ballew was finding his mark early as the senior racked up 10 points in the first 10 minutes.
“Tonight, Ballew finally had a game,” said Vikings head coach Bill Bedgood. “He’s finally healthy, not 100% but he’s pretty close to 100%. He just really looked like himself again. So it was good to see him. He really is the one that kind of got us back in the game.”
Bedgood loved his team’s quick response to getting down early and quickly swinging the game the other way after a flat start.
Big 3-point shooting from Canyon’s Eric Kubel would again keep Canyon in the game but the Vikings caught on and eventually were all over the sharpshooter.
The Cowboys entered the second half only down eight points but the team couldn’t find its rhythm. Senior Maurice Pitts stole the ball for an easy layup on Canyon’s first possession, leading to a big Valencia run.
Canyon’s first bucket would take about five minutes into the third with the team in a deep hole. However, once they got the lid off the basket, the Cowboys’ offense exploded for an 11-0 run to cut the lead back down to 10.
Valencia was able to keep the Cowboys from re-entering the game with tough defense and big buckets from Ballew and Davis.
The Vikings move back to .500 after their wild non-league games. The team has and will continue to play some of the top teams in the Southern Section to gear up for a playoff run.
“We’ve played some really tough teams so we’ve got to figure some stuff out but we’re doing good,” said Ballew. “I like the win today. It builds confidence for the next couple games going on.”
Valencia’s physicality matched up well with the always gritty Canyon. Bedgood credits the team’s defensive performance to his assistant coach La Creesha Clark.
“She’s done a good job, getting them to play a very kind of aggressive style, kind of a half court, hybrid man-zone defense,” said Bedgood. We used it against West Ranch, it was effective. We used it again tonight, it was effective. So that’s something that I think is really going to pay off for us down the road, too.”
One of the biggest performers on the defensive end was junior Bryce Bedgood. The center Bedgood would finish his night with six points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Ballew has high hopes for his team but will look to see them continue to improve on defense as the season goes on.
“I just wanna see more consistency on the defensive end,” said Ballew. “Being able to play consistently on defense. Hit more shots and less turnovers. That’s why we’ve been losing a lot of games. But, if we fix that, we’re very unbeatable.”
Valencia will be in tournament action during their holiday break before returning to league play Tuesday, Jan. 3, at Golden Valley at 6:30 p.m. Canyon will also have some non-league and tourney games over the break before returning to league play on Jan. 3 with a home matchup with Castaic.