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38TH ANNUAL VALLEY CHRISTIAN GIRLS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT: Scoring at a premium in Valley Christian’s win over Whitney

By Loren Kopff

You could look at the Valley Christian-Whitney girls basketball game last Saturday afternoon in the final day of the 38th Annual V.C. Tournament in one of two ways. If you liked defense, then this was a game for you.

But if you were banking on both teams shooting at least 30 percent from the field, then you were in the wrong gymnasium. In the seventh place game, the host Lady Crusaders pulled away from the Lady Wildcats in the third quarter and earned a sloppy 31-21 victory. V.C. ended a brief two-game slide and improved to 6-4 on the season while the ‘Cats lost for the third straight time and dropped to 4-6.

“We know we need to improve as far as practices and as far as really making our presence known in the first half and continue making our presence known in the second half,” said V.C. assistant coach Jay Field.

That quote was based on the 2-2 first quarter score. Whitney sophomore Nicole Lee scored the game’s first points with 4:08 left in the quarter and V.C. senior Alex Fenderson tied the contest after an offensive rebound with 1:45 remaining.

It didn’t get a whole lot better in the second quarter because 2:38 had elapsed before Lee sank a pair of free throws, then scored another basket 35 seconds later. Eventually, Whitney would lead 8-7 at the break as both teams didn’t even connect on 14 percent of their shots from the field. Despite trailing at the break, Field was a little pleased in the sense that the team met its goal of limiting Whitney to seven points per quarter.

“We were playing great defense,” Field said. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. We had to continue our defense intensity. We made adjustments [in the second half] and switched it up to a man-to-man and picked up full court so we could try to get some steals.”

But down by three points in the third quarter, the Lady Crusaders went on an 11-0 run highlighted by seven points from junior Katy Feller. Following a pair of free throws from Whitney junior Chloe Olvera with 4:30 left in the game, the Lady Crusaders closed out the contest on a 9-0 run.

Feller led V.C. with 11 points and nine steals while senior Kate Vande Vegte added eight points and two assists. Fenderson pitched in with half a dozen points and 10 rebounds. This was the fourth time that V.C. had held its opponents to 30 or fewer points.

“The Katy and Kate show, the K. K. show is always a good thing to see,” Field said. “You have a great point guard out of Katy who is able to slash and attack the paint. And when she does, she always has the option of kicking it out to Kate who is a sniper from down deep. The sky’s the limit with those two and we’re blessed to have them.”

Lee led the Lady Wildcats with 11 points and 14 rebounds while four players combined for the other 10 points. Whitney failed to score at least 40 points in any of its four tournament games and Lee scored 33 of the team’s 112 points while Olvera combined for 22 points. Whitney will next be in action on Jan. 6 at Oxford Academy in the Academy League opener.

V.C. is competing in the Garden Grove Tournament, which begins today and runs through Tuesday. Last season, the Lady Crusaders went 7-11 in non-Olympic League games.

“We always feel like there’s that one or two wins that got away from us,” Field said. “But we’re still a very young team as far as experience. We feel great about where we are compared to last year even though they won 11 games last year.”