Verdugo Hills are locked and ready to defend their East Valley League title
As the Verdugo Hills Girls Varsity basketball squad gets ready to break the seal on the 2021-22 campaign, there is a palpable energy around the program that comes with the expectation of success. The Dons bring back all their major contributors from the team that won the East Valley League last season. Even though the league will no doubt be tougher with the return of several teams to action that did not compete last season, Coach Kevin Peterson Henry is confident his group has what it takes to repeat as champions. “We know the type of group we have, and they will only continue to get better,” said Henry. “Our goals are set high for this season.”
While the Dons are attempting to win consecutive League titles for the first time in school history, Coach Henry has set bigger goals for the girls to accomplish this season. “We’ve laid out plain and simple what we want this program to achieve this season,” said Henry. “The league title is just a part of what I believe we can do.”
Aside from winning the league, the program wants to reach 20 wins in the regular season, a feat that no Varsity Girls squad at Verdugo Hills has ever achieved. Accomplishing that goal would lead to the third benchmark that the coaching staff has set, which is to improve their positioning in the newly reworked playoff system. “Because of how they changed the format for the playoffs going forward, we know that a highly successful regular season could place us in a potentially higher division for playoffs,” said Henry. “If we’re going to compete, we want it to be at the highest level possible.”
For the Verdugo Hills Varsity girls’ basketball program to see their goals come to fruition, it all starts with the players on the floor. The Dons will be led by their three headed monster attack in the backcourt made up of Sophomore guard Moriah Mosley, Junior guard Nicole Vanegas and Senior guard Ayana Peterson Henry. The team’s identity is tied to these three, as the strategy of Coach Henry’s team is to take advantage of his team’s athleticism by pushing the pace of play and getting up and down the floor. “When we are at our best, we are playing with speed, aggressiveness and applying pressure to our opponents,” said Coach Henry. “Our brand of basketball is hard for teams to deal with.”
Last season the big three carried the weight of the scoring responsibility, accounting for close to 83 percent of the teams’ points. This season they will be leaned on to do more of the same, but the coaching staff believes they are ready for the task of helping raise the level of the role players around them. “Coming into the season the girls have really taken on the task and become real leaders of this team,” said Coach Henry. “They set the bar every day in the way they work, and in the way they help teach the young players in the program about the way we want to play. I couldn’t be prouder of how the three of them have taken on the task to take us to another level.”
The road ahead won’t be easy for Verdugo Hills. With the addition of several teams that sat out last season, The East Valley League will provide plenty of challenges, now that the Dons are the team to beat. Their main competition in the league looks to be the Poly Parrots, a team that returns most of their roster that finished second in the East Valley and put up several wins in the postseason. “We know we are going to have our hands full with the likes of Poly and Arleta, and there is a bit of unknown with the teams who are rejoining that we haven’t had a chance to see.” Said Henry. “But I know the girls are ready, and we are excited to get the season rolling.”
The Dons will kick the season off with a tournament game against Hesperia at Providence High School in Burbank Tuesday, November 30th.