CHICO — Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.
Because on Tuesday night at Varley Gym, there wasn’t much scoring to be had between the Pleasant Valley and Foothill girls basketball teams.
The Vikings’ scored their first basket with 1 minute, 23 seconds left in the first quarter. Emma Roach scored on a layup for the Cougars 90 seconds into the game, before going scoreless for nearly nine minutes that followed.
By halftime, PV led 17-10 with just nine combined field goals between the two squads— five for the Vikings and the Cougars with four.
But when all was said and done, PV found other ways to be effective. For one, the Vikings’ defense held the Cougars under 10 points in all four quarters. They forced steals, leading to transition opportunities. And when shots weren’t falling, the likes of Kylie Matthews, who led PV with nine points, and Mallory Moore, adding eight points, were there to crash the boards and give the Vikings extra chances to score.
PV topped visiting Foothill 36-23, improving to 11-11 overall and 5-2 in the Eastern Athletic League ahead of a crucial matchup Thursday against Chico High.
“We couldn’t buy a bucket, not even a layup, not even an easy (one). But the difference is tonight, we played pretty good (defense),” PV head coach Bob Paddock said.
“I was asking my coaches, ‘Do you think it was because they weren’t shooting well? Or did they get open looks and they weren’t making them?’ We all agreed that we played pretty good ‘D.’ We didn’t give up too many open looks. That’s the difference.”
Foothill (10-11, 2-5 EAL) trimmed its deficit to four points midway through the third, when Melissa Mitchell, who had a team-high nine points, drained her second of three 3-pointers for the game. Matthews responded with a layup on the other end to give the Vikings a 21-16 advantage.
With the Vikings leading 22-16, neither team was able to capitalize during a scoreless drought lasting over three minutes to start the fourth quarter.
Then, Matthews grabbed a rebound on one end, dribbled the length of the court, drew a shooting foul on a layup attempt and made 1-of-2 free throws. On PV’s next trip up the floor, Cassidy King connected on a 3-pointer to give the Vikings a 26-16 lead, and a double-digit cushion they held onto for the remainder of the game.
Moore added another basket after grabbing an offensive rebound with 2:06 remaining, while the Vikings added another seven points from the free-throw line.
“When we needed it, they got after it,” Paddock said.
The Vikings have now won three straight in the EAL, after dropping back-to-back home games to Chico and Shasta in January. In those games, like Tuesday, the Vikings struggled to find a shooting rhythm. But this time around, they found another way to win.
“We’ve been in this same position where we couldn’t shoot at all (against) Chico and Shasta at home, and they knew the outcome,” Paddock said. “Those things, I think they knew (if) we don’t get after it, we’re getting another here at home. And losing at home — you just can’t do that.”
Pleasant Valley 36, Foothill 23
Foothill * 2 * 8 * 6 * 7 * — * 23
PV * 5 * 12 * 5 * 14 * — * 36
Foothill — Mitchell 9, Matthews 5, Wallace 3, Roach 2, Williford 2, Padilla 2.
Pleasant Valley — Matthews 9, Carlisle 9, Moore 8, Vieg 6, King 5.
3-point goals — Foothill 4 (Mitchell 3, Wallace), Pleasant Valley 2 (King, Carlisle).
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