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Valencia Turns Corner


Valencia's roller coaster season is on the rise.

The Vikings are 9-7, but four of their losses have come to teams ranked in The Times' Top 25. Two weeks ago, Valencia went 2-2--all against ranked teams--in the Artesia tournament. One of the victories, a 57-50 decision over La Puente Bishop Amat, was particularly important.

"I think we turned the corner in the Bishop Amat game," said Jerry Mike, Valencia's third-year coach. "We set that game as a test, to make a statement to ourselves. They were undefeated, and they were so big. They're kind of like Saugus. We don't have a whole lot of size, so that was a big win."

Valencia's low-post defender is senior Holly Fenet, who is 5 feet 9. Inexperience is another challenge. Two freshmen, guards Kelley Tarver and Daviyonne Weathersby, and a sophomore, Tamaiya Smith, are starters.

"She's loaded with talent," Mike said of Smith, who is averaging 8.4 points. "We're expecting big things by the end of the year. By far, she's our most talented player, not taking anything away from Kelly. She's got a great shot, but she's inconsistent."

Tarver is the only player averaging in double figures. Notable among her performances was a 27-point effort in a loss to Long Beach Poly, a game in which she made 23 of 24 free throws.

Saugus, which plays host to Valencia on Thursday, is one of the teams the Vikings must beat if they are to win a share of their third consecutive Foothill League title. The other prime competitor is league favorite Newhall Hart, which is ranked No. 14 this week.

"Against the top teams, I'm a little surprised at how we've done," Mike said. "With the exception of Ventura [a 71-48 loss], we've been in every game, and we've beaten some teams I didn't expect [to beat]."


Planes, trains or automobiles: Irvine Woodbridge was supposed to play in a tournament in Reno during the preseason, but the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed its plans. Instead, Woodbridge played in the Orange County Championship for the first time.

"We had two or three families that were uneasy about the traveling," said Eric Bangs, Woodbridge's coach. "We had three different flights set up, all of them got canceled, and it got to be where it consumed the program for three weeks.

"I was the most disappointed because I like playing those good Northern California teams."

Los Alamitos was in the same boat, only worse. Both the boys' and girls' teams were to play in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"Three or four parents on the boys' side and two or three on our side said they wouldn't let their kids fly," he said.

Ford said 14 boys and girls teams dropped out of the Daytona Beach tournament.


Ankle treatment: Erika Arriaran of Norco, one of top freshmen in the Southland, has been bothered by a sore ankle, but her coach, Rick Thompson, said it's a mysterious ailment.

"She doesn't know how she hurt it," Thompson said.

Arriaran scored only seven points--the first time this season she failed to score in double figures--in a 69-55 loss against fourth-ranked Fullerton Troy.

After scoring only one point in the second half against Troy, Arriaran did not play Saturday against Fullerton Rosary.

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