Va­len­cia High Girls Bas­ket­ball

CIF-SS D1AA Cham­pi­ons

The Signal - - SPORTS - By Ma­son Nes­bitt Sig­nal Sports Ed­i­tor On Twit­ter: @ma­son_­nes­bitt

Va­len­cia High girls bas­ket­ball played like a team run­ning out of time.

Yes, the Vik­ings’ 2016-17 cam­paign was a show­time-es­que mon­tage of ball move­ment, Jade Jor­dan 3-point­ers, Ash­lee Ane drives to hoop and Kayla Kon­rad coast-to-coast buck­ets.

But Va­len­cia won the pro­gram’s first-ever CIF ti­tle with fe­roc­ity borne of one fi­nal op­por­tu­nity.

Jor­dan, Ane, Kon­rad and Ke­nadee Hon­aker formed a quar­tet of four-year var­sity play­ers who de­spite tal­ent and chem­istry, had never been past the quar­ter­fi­nals.

“We knew it was our last time play­ing to­gether,” Hon­aker said. “This year was dif­fer­ent know­ing what­ever we did this year, it would be our last.”

It came as no sur­prise, then, that Va­len­cia came to play at West Tor­rance in the CIF-South­ern

We knew it was our last time play­ing to­gether. This year was dif­fer­ent know­ing what­ever we did this year, it would be our last.”

Ke­nadee Hon­aker,

Va­len­cia High girls bas­ket­ball player

Sec­tion Di­vi­sion 1AA sec­ond round on Feb. 18.

The War­riors had up­set Va­len­cia in the quar­ters the year be­fore. But not on this night.

The Vik­ings held West to sin­gle digit scor­ing in the first quar­ter, af­ter which they led by 20 points.

The fi­nal was 61-46. It was not that close. Va­len­cia coach Jerry Mike fig­ured his team had played with as much in­ten­sity as he’d ever seen in a bas­ket­ball game.

“It was high, very high,” he said.

And the Vik­ings never let up.

So, as much as Kon­rad’s 25-plus points per game in the South­ern Sec­tion play­offs were cru­cial. So too were the se­nior’s ef­forts in man-to-man de­fense against Canyon High’s 6-foot-3 Rachel Bow­ers in the cham­pi­onship game.

So too were Hon­aker’s and Chyanne Pagkali­nawan’s steals at the top of the team’s ac­tive de­fen­sive zone.

So too was Ane’s abil­ity to de­fend mul­ti­ple po­si­tions.

In the CIF fi­nal on March 4, tak­ing on a ri­val Canyon High team that dropped 64 points on Va­len­cia a month ear­lier, Mike for­sook his sta­ple zone for more manto-man than the Vik­ings had played in any game all year.

Kon­rad matched Bow­ers phys­i­cal­ity in the post, hold­ing the Canyon star to a quiet 10 points.

Kon­rad’s team­mates matched her ef­fort even as the Cow­boys stormed back. Va­len­cia won 50-45.

“We al­ways said de­fense wins games, and the of­fense will come,” Kon­rad said. “Every­one wants to give 100 per­cent all the time. That helped us – not just the starters, but the re­serves, when they came in, they brought up the en­ergy, too.”

The fore­most re­serve was Chid­inma Ikonte, who pro­vided valu­able min­utes af­ter Jor­dan suf­fered a head in­jury in the CIF fi­nal. But Sky­lar In­gram, Tiana Beale, Ni­cole Weath­er­man and Bri Cole­man con­trib­uted, too.

“This is about as a good a group of girls bas­ket­ball play­ers that have come through Va­len­cia,” said Vik­ings Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Brian Sti­man. “As a group they played so well to­gether, and they re­spected each other so much.”

They earned the re­spect of the val­ley and the South­ern Sec­tion in the process.

Katharine Lotze/The Sig­nal

Va­len­cia’s Ke­nadee Hon­aker, left, reaches for a re­bound dur­ing a CIF state play- off bas­ket­ball game against Bak­ers­field at Va­len­cia on March 8.

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