Forfeits or not, the five-season-long Foothill League win streak is over at West Ranch.
Valencia Vikings boys’ basketball brought down Goliath in Thursday’s matchup with the West Ranch Wildcats.
The decisive blow came off the left hand of Valencia point guard Stacy Webb, who charged into the paint and laid in the game-winning bucket with just a second left in the fourth quarter. Webb’s layup put him up to 15 points and snapped the Wildcats’ 45-game win streak in the Foothill League.
Vikings assistant coach Greg Fontenette was a hair away from calling timeout as Webb brought the ball up on the game-winning play.
“That play was definitely not scripted,” Fontenette said in a phone interview. “In the moment, we felt we needed to trust our players. We were confident in our players’ decision-making coming into tonight. I wanted to call timeout, but I knew West Ranch was in foul trouble, and I heard coach (Bill) Bedgood right behind me saying, ‘Let them go.’”
Valencia senior Bryce Bedgood led the way with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Bedgood had a miserable outing in the Vikings’ first matchup with the Cats this season but surged through round two.
“We knew this game could serve as a confidence booster for Bryce with how much this team needs him, especially in big games against West Ranch,” Fontenette said. “The real key was Bryce. We had a good discussion with him before the game and told him, ‘This is your game. You have to show you’re worthy of that McDonald’s All-American nomination. He definitely answered the call.”
Bedgood did a ton of damage on the offensive glass by design. Valencia aimed to go right at Tracy Bryden in the paint with a high screen and roll. Bryden is a block machine down low for West Ranch, but the Vikes believed if they could at least get a shot up, Bedgood would have more space to attack the rebound.
West Ranch had a brief double-digit lead in the first quarter that was quickly erased. From the second quarter on, it was the same back-and-forth bout fans have come to expect when watching these two teams go at it.
Bryden and senior Bishop Brooks led the Wildcats with 17 points.
Valencia also got a boost from senior Jacob Michel-Zavala with 11 points.
None of the Valencia players were in high school the last time West Ranch dropped a league game. However, the program remembers beating the Wildcats back in the day, as the Vikings now hold West Ranch’s last two league losses, after pummeling the Cats back in 2020, 80-49.
“It felt like a championship game. It’s a huge accomplishment,” Fontenette said. “It doesn’t take away from what West Ranch has done. A win streak like that is unheard of, but I want to give credit to our guys. They executed the way we needed to, the coaching staff stayed composed, and we came out with a win.”
The Vikings have stumbled in their biggest games this season. Valencia took lopsided losses at Harvard-Westlake, Sierra Canyon and against Saugus this season. However, Fontenette saw his team’s confidence grow from each of those losses.
Fontenette shared his appreciation to the Valencia administration and team parents for their massive support following every big loss this season. The coach was also quick to praise assistant coach Steven Garcia.
“Our assistant coach Steven Garcia, we brought him onto varsity this year for skill development but he’s really been the glue between the coaches and players,” Fontenette said. “We call him our zen master, he keeps the peace.”
Valencia will now head into the final stretch of the regular season with a full head of steam. The Vikings will look to heat up before the postseason and head to Canyon on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re gonna come out on our high horse against Canyon but we’ll try to keep our kids grounded,” Fontenette said. “I told the guys to go out, have fun and be safe, but tomorrow it’s back to work.”
West Ranch’s first league loss since 2020 was a backbreaker and could potentially keep the team out of the CIF Open DIvision.
The Cats still have their eyes on their fourth straight Foothill League title. West Ranch will head down to Carlsbad on Friday for some tough non-league action before returning to league play on Tuesday at home against Hart at 6:30 p.m.