SCV playoff basketball preview 

Valencia guard Jacob Michel-Zavala (13) jumps up for a shot against Canyon guard Eric Kubel (21) during the third quarter of Friday's game at Canyon High School. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

An astounding 13 local high school basketball teams enter the postseason this week. 

The Golden Valley boys were a surprising snub as the Grizzlies swept both Hart and Castaic, finished fifth in league, and boasted a better overall and league record than the Coyotes and Indians. 

On the girls’ side, West Ranch will enter the playoffs as an at-large bid in coach Paul Gross’ first season, while Hart and Castaic snagged bids in the boys’ brackets.  

Here’s everything you need to know for a jam-packed week of basketball in the Santa Clarita Valley:  

Saugus wins league for first time in 41 years, hosts Valley Christian 

Earning an accolade decades in the making, Saugus lifted the Foothill League crown for the first time since 1983.  

The Centurions (21-7) finished the year strong and will host the opening round of the CIF Division 2AA playoffs, which has no cakewalks.  

The Valley Christian Defenders (16-12), an at-large team from the Olympic League, of Cerritos, will head to Saugus on Wednesday.  

Saugus shooting guard Justin Perez (0) goes up for a shot againt Canyon defense during the third quarter of Tuesday’s game at Saugus High School. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

The Defenders don’t have a ton of size and match up with the Centurions somewhat evenly. Saugus has shown it can slow down big men in the past with solid post defense from Max Guardado, Peter Burton and Justin Perez. 

Saugus and Valley Christian tip off on Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

Hart girls get a doozy, host Harvard-Westlake  

Hart girls’ hoops knew there’d be know walk-in-the-park games in Division 1. 

The Indians (22-5) will prepare to host the Mission League bronze-finishing Harvard-Westlake Wolverines (11-17).  

The Wolverines have impressive wins over Canyon, Village Christian and Crescenta Valley this season. However, not many teams feel better than Hart right now, which enters the postseason on a 12-game win streak. 

Harvard-Westlake is led by junior Deana Thompson, who averages over 15 points a game. The team is coached by Women’s Basketball Coach Association 2023 Coach of the Year Melissa Hearlihy.   

Arleigh Eav (2) of Hart drives down the court against Canyon defender Isabella Escribano (25) at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Hart’s Morgan Mack, Arleigh Eav and Lily Cornejo will look to make another big postseason run, after last year’s push ended in heartbreak in the CIF championship game.  

The Indians and Wolverines tip off on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Hart High School. 

Valencia boys head up to Paraclete 

The Viking boys will also be on the road with a quick drive up to Lancaster to face the Paraclete Spirits (22-6). 

All-American nominee Bryce Bedgood has been on a tear this season and should have minimal issues dealing with the smaller Spirit squad.  

Paraclete guard Mister Burnside is a high-flying player, who will be a tough task for the Valencia backcourt. Some tough defense from Jacob Michel-Zavala and Stacy Webb up top with Bedgood holding down the paint won’t be easy but can get the Vikings to the second round.  

Valencia forward Bryce Bedgood (35) blocks a shot by Canyon forward Sean Hernandez (25). Courtesy of Cole Franquiz.

Valencia (13-13) and Paraclete tip off on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Division 2A opening round. 

Orange Lutheran girls host Canyon 

Canyon’s season has been a roller coaster flooded with injuries, illness and overall a ton of missed time on the court.  

The Cowboys (14-13) will hope to look a little bit more like themselves against the Orange Lutheran Lancers (18-7). Canyon will have a fellow high-flying offense and tough defense to worry about in the Lancers. 

Canyon’s Josie Regez and Isabella Escribano have both poured in points this season but if the team can get another big boost from freshman Taylor Ford and senior Koko Booker, the Cowboys could shock the fourth-seeded Lancers. 

Canyon shooting guard Josie Regez (23) dribbles the ball during Tuesday night’s game against Saugus. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Canyon will need to slow down Orange seniors Princess Cassell and Cassidy Driscoll. 

The Lancers and Cowboys tip off on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Orange Lutheran High School.   

West Ranch hosts Edison in D1 

The Wildcats will be the only other boys team hosting an opener on Wednesday as the team welcomes the Edison Chargers.  

Both West Ranch (14-14) and Edison (20-8) have some close losses to tough teams on their records.  

The Wildcats have an overwhelming size advantage with forwards Tracy Bryden and Prince Okonkwo now back in the lineup alongside James Evans and Darrell Morris.  

(5) James Evans from West Ranch dunks and scores at Friday night's game at Saugus High School. Katherine Quezada/The Signal
(5) James Evans from West Ranch dunks and scores at Friday night’s game at Saugus High School. Katherine Quezada/The Signal

West Ranch made noise in the Open Division last season but likely won’t shy away from celebrating a run at the Division 1 championship.  

The Cats and Chargers tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at West Ranch High School.  

Saugus girls head to Irvine 

Saugus begins its Division 3AA journey down south in a matchup with the Irvine Vaqueros. 

The Centurions (19-9) have lost just one game in 2024 while the Vaqueros (14-12) have had an up and down new year after their hot start earlier this season. 

Saugus has hit its stride and gotten boosts from all over the roster. Senior Destiny Onovo and point guard EvaMarie Rios have run the offense while Julie Phillips, Samantha Cortez and Natalie Weathers have come up big for the team time and time again. 

Destiny Onovo (22) of Saugus and Tori Hughes (44) go up for a rebound in the first quarter at Saugus High on Friday, 011924. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Centurions have a nearly identical roster from last season but have grown tenfold. Saugus was an early bounce from the postseason last year but with the Centurions seemingly getting ready to peak, this playoff run could turn into a deep one. 

Irvine welcomes Saugus on Thursday at 7 p.m. 

Canyon boys hit the road, face Oaks Christian 

Canyon secured its playoff spot less than 36 hours before the brackets were released.  

The Cowboys (17-10) are riding high as winners of 12 of their last 16 games and will look to carry on the hot streak on the road at Oaks Christian (18-10) in their 3AA opener.  

The Lions of Westlake Village finished second in the Marmonte League but have had mixed success against the Foothill League this season. Oaks ran wild against Golden Valley but fell to Hart in the Indians’ holiday tournament.  

Eric Kubel (21) of Canyon shoots a three-pointer against Hart at Hart on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Canyon junior Eric Kubel has been unstoppable for a majority of the season and with other Cowboys like Isaac Yuhico, Noah Madrigal and Solomon Sims playing well, the green machine could upset the Lions. 

Oaks Christian and Canyon tip off on Wednesday at 7 p.m.  

Trinity girls host Notre Dame 

The Knights have had nothing but success in the playoffs in the last four years. Trinity has been moved up at least one division every year since winning state back in 2021. 

Trinity (24-3) will now be tested in Division 2A and host the Notre Dame Knights (16-12). 

Notre Dame enters the postseason as an at-large team from the Mission League. Notre Dame has several impressive wins on its resume, leading none to question the team’s playoff bid. 

Emma Schaaf (32) of Trinity Classical Academy shoots against Santa Clarita Christian School at The Master’s University on Saturday, 011324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Trinity has played strong defense yet again this year and will have one of its tallest tasks in Notre Dame. However, the visiting Knights will also have their hands full with the soon-to-be two-time Heritage League Player of the Year Emma Schaaf.  

Trinity takes on Notre Dame on Thursday at the Newhall Church of the Nazarene at 7 p.m. 

Hart makes it to the dance, heads to El Dorado 

The Indians’ impressive non-league schedule earned the team an at-large bid for the second straight year. 

This season, Hart (14-13) heads to face the El Dorado Golden Hawks (18-10) in the Division 3AA opener. 

The Hawks have a balanced attack with Andrew Salvador, Caleb Hendrix and Noah Barker all averaging about 10 points a game.  

Hart’s Deven Strong has been the focal point of the offense but Gavin Heredia, Ron Phillips and Joseph Montes have added to the Indians’ success on both sides of the ball.  

Hart guard Deven Strong shoots over Canyon defender Noah Madrigal. Photo Courtesy of Cole Franquiz.

El Dorado enters the postseason as winner of six of its previous seven games while Hart has dropped seven of its last nine games. 

The Hawks and Indians tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at El Dorado High School.  

Valencia girls draw La Cañada  

The Vikings will make the short trip over to La Cañada to face the Spartans in their Division 3AA opener.  

The Spartans have played some solid defense this year but will have their hands full on defense with Libby Oxciano and Cara McKell leading Valencia. The Viking pair’s athleticism has led to fantastic scoring seasons for both from behind the arc and in the paint.  

Valencia point guard Libby Oxciano (23) looks for an opening to pass the ball against Canyon point guard Isabella Escribano (25) on Friday, Jan. 26. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Valencia point guard Libby Oxciano (23) looks for an opening to pass the ball against Canyon point guard Isabella Escribano (25) on Friday, Jan. 26. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

La Cañada enters the playoffs as winner of eight of its last 10 games, while Valencia is an even .500 in that span. 

The Vikings and Spartans tip off at 7 p.m. on Thursday at La Cañada High School.  

Castaic boys get their shot at CIF  

The Coyotes had a remarkable season in 2023-24. Although the squad went winless again in the Foothill League, Castaic’s 14-2 non-league record was too much for the CIF to ignore.  

The Coyotes (14-14) will have to wait another season for a league win but can opt for something greater, a playoff win. 

Castaic will have the Cal Lutheran C-Hawks (15-6) to deal with in the Division 5AA opener. Cal Lutheran is led by a pair of juniors who average 16 points a night. Forwards Dumaga Orjiako and Ethan Ash will be two big tests in the post for the Castaic defense.  

Castaic power forward Kevin Curtis (11) passes the ball against Canyon guard Eric Kubel (21) during the first quarter of Friday’s game at Castaic High School. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

The Coyotes will need solid defensive performances from Tashaun Barron and Kevin Curtis to contain the C-Hawk duo.  

Castaic heads to Wildomar on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to take on Cal Lutheran 

West Ranch girls return to postseason 

After a one-year hiatus, the Wildcats will return to the playoffs.  

Seniors Alanna Topete and Aubrey Molina have led the way in head coach Paul Gross’ first season with the team. The group will now be tested on the road against the Patriot Warriors (10-17, the River Valley League runner ups. 

West Ranch guard Alanna Topete (24) dribbles the ball against Simi Valley during Wednesday’s game at West Ranch. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Patriot will have to slow down Topete’s driving and passing while still locking down Molina on the perimeter.  

West Ranch (16-12) makes the trip to Jurupa Valley on Thursday to take on the Warriors at 7 p.m. 

Trinity faces Redlands Advent 

The Knights (20-7) feel like they have a real shot at a playoff run in Division 5AA. Trinity’s first test will be a road trip to Redlands as the Knights take on the Redland Adventist Bulldogs. 

The Bulldogs (15-5) are led by 6-foot, 5-inch senior Micah Brooks and sophomore Aidan Calhoun, who both average scoring in double digits. Brooks finished his season with averages of 12.7 rebounds and 3.4 blocks a game. The big man’s presence will be tough to combat but with the Knights’ premier outside shooting, the game should be a good one. 

Trinity sharpshooters Lucas Spring, Noah Phillips, Conrad Alderson and Cy Mitchell have shot well from behind the arc this season. However, the four have also displayed they aren’t one-level scorers and have found ways to score through extra passing or driving. 

Trinity forward Lucas Spring (24) goes up for a layup against SCCS sophomore Caleb Shaffer (2) during the third quarter of Saturday night’s game at Master’s University. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Spring averages around 24 points per game this season but any one of those four Knights can erupt if given the opportunity.  

Trinity takes on Redlands Adventist on Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

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