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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – V.C. girls basketball finds way to leave tournament on a three-game winning streak


By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter


Editor’s note: Any scheduled games for the upcoming week are subject to being canceled or postponed at any time after time of press due to Covid protocols.

GARDEN GROVE-The Valley Christian High girls basketball team hasn’t recovered from the unexpected departure of former head coach Anthony Roldan a week before the regular season began. The Defenders had lost their first 11 games and are off to the program’s worst start since the 2012-2013 season.

But the team found a way to end December on a high note, winning the last three games of the Garden Grove Tournament, including a 50-16 win over Capistrano Valley High last Thursday evening. The 50 points ties a season high the team has scored all season and just the eighth time in the first 16 games V.C. has scored at least 30 points.

“I think they’re figuring out who they want to be,” said V.C. interim head coach Dan Leffler. “It’s taken a while since coach Roldan has departed. We’re not over that, but we’re moving in the right direction. Now it’s about basketball and I think they want to play to win; they’re playing hard.”

V.C. scored the first six points of the game and never looked back, outscoring Capo Valley 15-3 in the opening stanza while attempting 29 shots from the field and held a 36-9 halftime lead, thanks to the play of seniors Gillian Doplemore (11 points, 13 rebounds) and Karon Warren (11 points, four steals) in the half. The former would score two points in the third quarter while the latter didn’t play the final 16 minutes.

“Karon Warren is obviously a huge asset for us defensively,” Leffler said. “We’re not a stellar offensive team, so we have to score baskets on defense, and we need Karon and Gillian to pick up the slack for us so we don’t have to get the half court set.”

Four of the five starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter, but four bench players continued to keep the shooting and rebounding going despite both teams combining for five points in the final stanza. Just in the fourth quarter alone, junior Meghan Patterson had five rebounds and freshman Chayse Chambers grabbed another four boards while blocking one shot and assisting on the team’s lone basket, which came from junior Katherine Theberg-Torres 34 seconds into the quarter. In total, V.C. crashed the boards to the tune of 54 rebounds with Doplemore getting 18 of them and Patterson another 10.

“We put ourselves in a precarious spot because we don’t make a lot of shots,” Leffler said. “So then we might be padding the stats, some would say. I think that’s got to be the key for us because if we don’t shoot the ball well, we have to get a second chance. That, and when they shoot and miss, it’s got to be one and done. So, we’ve been working on that; we’ve been working on boxing out, trying to make sure we get rebounds.”

V.C. began the last week of the month with a 68-24 loss to Brea Olinda High before knocking off Garden Grove High 48-22 and Temecula Valley High 42-22. Doplemore scored 52 points in the tournament while senior Samantha Sims and senior Keiana Harvey had 26 and 18 points respectively in the four games. Theberg-Torres also had 18 points in the tournament.

“I wanted to finish what we started, which was we won two games before this [tournament] and now its three in this tournament,” Leffler said. “I knew when the bracket got realigned, we had a good chance to have some success and I think that helps us. We needed to build some confidence that they could believe that they could play. I think we did that.”

This past Tuesday, the Defenders beat Calvary Chapel Downey High 39-8 and the next night, they faced Westminster High at home. V.C. begins Olympic League play tonight at Maranatha High and will entertain Whittier Christian High on Tuesday.

“We’re not new to this at Valley Christian,” Leffler said. “We’ve had some experience through the pandemic first time with how we played and how we stay healthy. We do a lot of self-awareness with our teams and a lot of it comes from the athletic office. It’s all about them; they want to play. So, I put a lot of heat on them to make good choices and who they’re hanging with to make sure that we keep doing what we’re doing. They’ve done a wonderful job and we’ve been really fortunate.

“The goal is always to make the playoffs, and the Olympic League is tough,” Leffler later said. “But I think as we start to catch a little momentum, we’re moving in the right direction. A top three spot would be great for us and extend the life of the season.”

In other girls basketball action, Cerritos High (7-4) postponed is 605 League opener against Oxford Academy this past Tuesday and is scheduled to host Artesia High tonight before going to Whitney High on Tuesday. The Dons have not played since Dec. 18.

Gahr High lost its San Gabriel Valley League opener to Downey High 50-26 this past Wednesday to drop to 3-16 overall. The Gladiators will host Dominguez High tonight and Lynwood High on Wednesday.

Norwalk High dropped a 48-28 decision to California High this past Wednesday for fifth straight setback. The Lancers (11-7) will visit El Modena High on Saturday and Sierra Vista High on Monday.

Whitney postponed this past Tuesday’s game with Pioneer High but will take its 12-2 record into Glenn tonight. The Wildcats are ranked 16th in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA poll.