Defense powered the Valencia Vikings boys basketball to victory on senior night, after holding the visiting Golden Valley Grizzlies to just two points in the third quarter.
Valencia won the game, 73-40, over the shorthanded Grizzlies on Friday.
Vikings junior Bryce Bedgood shined brightest on a court full of seniors. Bedgood finished with 21 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
The game was tight in the first half before Valencia (16-10, 8-3) exploded in front in the third quarter.
Golden Valley (13-12, 3-8) moved the ball wall and repeatedly found open looks to keep the game close.
Vikings head coach Bill Bedgood’s message was clear at halftime. ‘Tighten it up and play together.’
“The message coach Bedgood gave us was: we’re playing too loose,’” Bryce said. “‘We’re not playing hard enough. He told us ‘Go play harder and stop playing loose. Stop playing like one on one.’”
Valencia rocketed ahead in the third, outscoring the Grizzlies, 23-2, including a 15-0 run to close out the quarter.
“The shots just didn’t fall,” said Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz. “There are those nights. Credit to Valencia, we wish them the best of luck.”
Senior Kai Davis was a big part of the Vikings pulling away. Davis tallied up 16 points, five assists and two steals. The senior point guard had plenty of motivation for wanting a blowout win after round one with Grizzlies was won by 14 points.
“The biggest difference was we just played as more of a team,” said Davis. “It’s at home and senior night. We had something to prove for everybody who came out.”
Golden Valley didn’t score another field goal in the second half until the 6:23-mark in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies started the game exceptionally but the third-quarter output showed how much the starting backcourt of Joe Miller and Freddy Marion contributed to the team.
Andrew Ezenwa led Golden Valley with 13 points, two assists and a block.
Valencia is a lock for the playoffs but has kept fighting for a better seed. The Vikings are winners of nine of their last 10 games and will likely be awarded a higher seed in the Division 4AA playoffs.
Golden Valley, also in 4AA, has a good shot at earning an at-large bid to enter the postseason but was officially eliminated from taking the fourth seed in the Foothill League.
Printz says he wouldn’t trade his team any other and praised his players dedication to the Grizzly program.
“I just think people need to recognize how good a group of kids this is,” Printz said. “They’re kids that came to Golden Valley as freshmen and will leave as seniors – No transfers, it’s unusual. These 10 seniors, for them to do it in this traditional way, it’s really special. It’s the way high school sports should be, I wouldn’t trade this group for anyone.”
The Grizzlies will play in their Foothill League finale on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. when the team returns home to host West Ranch.
Valencia will aim to secure the second seed in league while solidify a top seed in their CIF Division in the final week of the regular season. The Vikings head to Hart on Friday at 6:30 p.m. for their season finale. Valencia may have a long postseason ahead but some players believe they aren’t playing their best basketball yet.
“I feel like our team, over time, has gotten better and better,” said the junior Bedgood. “I feel like there is no peak for us. We’re going to keep getting better the more we play together and get to know each other. We’ll be something special for sure.”