Valencia Vikings boys’ basketball ended its regular season with a statement road win over Hart.
The Vikings won the game, 81-53, and will be the top-seeded team in Division 4AA, heading into the postseason.
Valencia (17-10, 9-3) was led by forward Bryce Bedgood, who racked up 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
“We feel good,” Bedgood said. “We’re doing good. It’s just been a great season. I thought we started off a little rough with the Saugus game. We came out flat. I thought from there we’ve just been nothing but up so I’m really proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished.”
Hart (15-12, 4-8) came out aggressive on its senior night and only trailed by two points after the first quarter. However, an explosion on offense saw the Vikings take a big lead early that the Indians just couldn’t chip away at.
Valencia point guard Kai Davis added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists, while teammate Mikah Ballew added 14 points. The senior backcourt got their teammates involved during the scoring frenzy, leading to six Vikings scoring six or more points as Valencia outscored Hart, 54-26, in the second and third quarters
Indians forward Elias Bookhart led the fight with another double-double performance. Bookhart finished his night with 14 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Hart never conceded but too many turnovers cost the Indians a potential upset victory. The Indians made their case to receive an at-large playoff bid with their solid overall record and championship at the Hart Holiday Classic.
It was an uplifting win for Valencia. The Vikings took game one with Hart by just three points but made a statement, beating the team by nearly 30 on its home court. It was just the regular-season conclusion that Vikings coach Joe Broder had hoped for.
“We just wanted to finish the year strong,” Broder said. “We’ve been playing well since the new year and we know what’s ahead of us. So, we wanted to close the regular season the right way. We know this team played this close last time when we played them at our house and we knew they’d come out with some energy at home senior night. We made sure the guys were focused and I think they came out a little shaky at first, but the mindset stayed the same and we were always in attack mode.”
Valencia finished the regular season with nine wins in league play. A coin flip awarded Saugus the second seed, leaving the Vikings in third place.
The team had a quick bounceback after last year’s Vikings finished with just three Foothill League wins.
The Vikings have lost just one game in 2023. The team will aim to continue its hot streak in hopes of a CIF title as Broder believes Valencia is yet to peak.
“We played really well and I think we played our best basketball so far,” Broder said. “I think we’re still getting better, though. So, I think this team can go really far. We’ve worked really hard all year to put ourselves in this position. That was the whole idea of having the schedule we had and then really getting in the tournaments that we were in, to really try and to compete. So, I think we did a great job of that and I think we put ourselves in a great position to go on a run.”
Both teams will start the playoffs with road games on Wednesday.
“Honestly, I think the thing that’s going to push us is our team dynamic,” Bedgood said. “I feel like these teams, they play for themselves. For us, we’re different. We play for each other. I feel like our coach really puts it in our heads, to play as one and play all together. So, I’m glad someone pushes us ahead.”