CHICO — A season once at a crossroads for the Pleasant Valley High girls basketball team has since taken a different route — all the way to the top of the Eastern Athletic League.
After suffering a pair of home losses weeks ago to Chico and Shasta in the span of a few days, the Vikings went on the road Jan. 24 and topped Enterprise 63-56. A few weeks later, PV can point to the win over Enterprise that night as the start of its midseason turnaround.
The turnaround came full circle on Thursday night at Varley Gym when the Vikings closed the regular season with a 60-51 win over the Hornets to claim the EAL title. Both teams finished their EAL schedules with identical 8-2 records, but because PV won both head-to-head matchups, that should be enough to give the Vikings an edge for the No. 1 overall seed in Northern Section Division III playoffs. Playoff seedings will be finalized Saturday morning.
“It feels great to beat Enterprise again. That was our goal and we finished our goal and got the one seed,” said PV’s Shaley Vieg, who, along with Cassidy King, finished with a team-high 14 points.
“I think after Enterprise (Jan. 24) we gained some momentum and it’s carried out throughout these past few games.”
PV (14-11, 8-2) held a 30-25 lead at halftime after Enterprise’s Alissa Terras and Vieg traded 3-pointers in the final 45 seconds. But the Vikings’ third quarter, once their Achilles heel this season, proved to be their strongest of the night.
Vieg hit her third 3 of the game at the 5-minute, 22-second mark of the third before Kylie Matthews scored on back-to-back layups to give PV a 39-29 lead. Then, as Matthews and Mallory Moore crashed the offensive glass, Moore wound up getting fouled on a shot and made 1-of-2 from the line.
“Those offensive rebounds, those second chances are killers, man, it just kills the defense,” PV head coach Bob Paddock said. “If you have good ‘D,’ miss a shot and then get a second chance, motivation is killed. I feel like (Kylie) does that a lot, and so does Mallory Moore. Same thing — crashes the boards on offense.”
Mianna Saechao, who finished with a game-high 18 points for Enterprise, cut into PV’s run with a layup on the other end. PV lost the ball on the ensuing possession, but Gillian Oliveras dove to the floor for a loose ball and flipped to Moore for a layup. Then around the two-minute mark, Moore was fouled as she made a turnaround jumper, and completed the 3-point play to put PV ahead 45-31.
King ended the quarter with a coast-to-coast layup for PV just before the buzzer, covering the length of the court in less than six seconds. PV ended the period outscoring Enterprise 20-10, and took a 50-35 lead in the fourth.
“I don’t think it’s a matchup issue; it’s just an execution issue. We just got outplayed,” Enterprise head coach Anthony Williams said.
The defending section champion Hornets, who went on to the CIF Northern California D-II championship last season — the state’s Final Four — are likely locked in as the second seed, with a three-game lead over the next tier of EAL teams, Foothill, Chico and Shasta.
“The girls just got to mentally lock in. We’ve been battling adversity all year, like I told the girls,” Williams said. “It would be nice to win a league title, but this isn’t the goal and I think they know that. We’ve got a good group of girls, they’ve been persevering all year, so they’re going to go home and they’re going to get over this one pretty quick.”
PV held a double-digit lead for nearly all of the fourth quarter until a Terras 3-point play cut the deficit to 57-49 with 1:10 to go. The Hornets were unable to draw any closer from there. Terras added 12 points for the Hornets.
While the Vikings celebrated the win and likely No. 1 seed, the ending of the game proved costly. King appeared to get injured chasing down a missed free throw, and spent the rest of the game on the bench. Then with under a minute remaining, Moore battled underneath the hoop for a rebound, and came up hobbling on one leg and needed to be helped off the court.
With a roster of just eight players, the Vikings will gladly take the first-round bye as extra time to heal up for round two.
“I always say, ‘a bye is no good, you get rusty. Unless you have injuries,'” Paddock said. “Now we got two injuries. We’re going to need that extra week.”
Prep Girls Basketball
Enterprise * 12 * 13 * 10 * 16 * — * 51
Pleasant Valley * 15 * 15 * 20 * 10 * — * 60
Enterprise — Saechao 18, Terras 12, N. Mendes 9, Whetstone 7, K. Mendes 4.
Pleasant Valley — King 14, Vieg 14, Moore 12, Matthews 10, Carlisle 5, Lindquist 5.
3-point goals — Enterprise 9 (Saechao 4, Terras 3, Whetstone, N. Mendes), Pleasant Valley 4 (Vieg 3, King).
Team EAL, Overall
*Pleasant Valley 8-2, 14-11
Enterprise 8-2, 17-11
Chico 5-5, 15-12
Foothill 4-5, 12-11
Shasta 4-5, 14-10
Red Bluff 0-10, 6-19
*PV holds head-to-head tiebreaker