Valencia girls basketball continues growth with dominant win over Golden Valley

VALENCIA – “If we take care of the basketball and we limit their offensive rebounds, we do a pretty good job.”

That’s what first-year Valencia girls basketball head coach Jared Honig said he was looking for his team to do Friday night, and the Vikings remained composed against a Golden Valley zone all night en route to a dominating 53-25 win in a Foothill League contest.

As impressive as their offense was throughout, it was defense that ruled the day for Valencia.

The Vikings set the tone early on. They led 16-4 at the end of the first quarter behind a strong performance from sophomore forward Cayden Senegal, who had two steals in the opening frame.

From then on, sophomore forward Cara McKell made her presence felt as she tallied 16 points, two steals, and five blocks.

Honig was very much complimentary of the sophomore, who showed a quality midrange game and was able to get to the free throw line on multiple occasions in the second half.

“She always has a really good all-around game. She’s like a walking double-double at this point,” he said. “Really good at getting to the hoop, can shoot the three, great rebounder on defense, blocks shots, plays tough on-ball defense. She just does it all for us.”

Senior guard Libby Oxcaino was another standout for Valencia, as she knocked down two first-quarter 3-pointers on the way to a 10-point performance.

Oxcaino is trying to get her legs back underneath her after sustaining an injury earlier in the year.

“She came out firing today,” Honig said.

“This is her second game back after being injured for three weeks so it was nice to see her get out there, knock down a couple 3s and really help us get the win.”

Valencia is largely a young team that has been led by a sophomore, McKell. Freshman Kiera McLaughlin, who started Friday’s game, had a quality performance with seven points and eight rebounds.

And for the head coach, who is in his first season at the helm, Honig is appreciative of the opportunity to possibly lead the program to new heights.

“It’s been really good just in terms of coaching, teaching, everyone’s been so welcoming,” he said. “It’s a really great atmosphere to be a part of, and I feel really lucky to be a part of the Valencia community.

“And I feel like we’re just gonna keep building the team. This team is gonna be the baseline, and we’ll keep building from there.”

Valencia will head to Newhall to play Foothill League-leading Hart next week, Jan. 12.

“You know, just … rebounding, taking care of the ball, playing smart offense and defense,” Honig said of what he will look for from his team in that matchup. “Just trying to execute our scheme and our plan.”

But for a team that was trying to rebound after a stretch of six losses in eight games in nonleague play, Friday’s win was a best-case scenario for Valencia.

Golden Valley, led by guard Akina Maat’s six points, plays West Ranch on Jan. 9.

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