Verdugo Hills survives late rally to beat Saint Genevieve

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The Verdugo Hills Girls Varsity team took the floor for their second matchup of the Providence High tournament looking to improve upon their efforts from the season opening defeat at the hands of Hesperia. The Dons got out to a big lead at halftime against the St. Genevieve Valiants, but the issues that plagued them down the stretch in their season opener reared themselves again.

The backcourt duo of Moriah Mosley and Nicole Vanegas bounced back in a big way from their underwhelming shooting performance in the season opener, shooting a combined 9-21 from the field, including Vanegas hitting 3 of her 6 three-point attempts in the first half. And where the offense led the way, the defense followed suit with the Dons pressuring the Valiants ball handlers, forcing them into 12 turnovers, including 8 steals. “Our guards really led the way to us getting out to that big lead in the first half,” Coach Kevin Peterson-Henry lamented after the game. “When we pressure the ball that way, it really helps us get the easy looks we want.”

Senior G/F Ayana Peterson-Henry was an unsung hero of the first half, as she served as a key catalyst to the Dons finding their stride on both sides of the floor. Henry put together a robust stat line of 6 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals as Verdugo Hills took a 35-18 lead into the halftime break.

The second half of the game told a different story altogether. The cohesiveness that characterized their dominant play in the first half gave way to stagnant and mistake-ridden play, as Saint Genevieve turned up the on-ball pressure to get themselves back into the contest. Verdugo Hills turned the ball over 15 times in the third and fourth periods of play, including a 9-minute stretch where Saint Genevieve went on a 21-5 run to cut a deficit that was once 20 points down to 3.

The turning point for the Dons in the fourth quarter came at the hands of the player of the game, Moriah Mosley.Her huge steal and bucket at the 5:13 mark pushed the lead back to 47-42 points, a lead which they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Moseley was sensational all night, pressuring the Valiants backcourt, wreaking havoc in passing lanes on defense, and on offense, she pushed the pace and attacked the basketball game, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. She did not shoot the ball well from the charity stripe, but nonetheless, she led all players with a game-high 13 free throw attempts. “When Moriah is aggressive and attacking the basket, it makes life easier for everyone on the floor,” said Coach Henry. “She really led the way for us tonight with her relentless energy on both ends of the floor.”

The Verdugo Hills squad is happy to have picked up their first win of the season, but Coach Henry knows that there is work to be done if they want to pick up more wins at the Providence tournament. “I told the girls after the game to let tonight be a lesson that we take going forward about continuing to play to our strengths and not letting up just because we have a lead,” said Henry. “I think we’ll be okay, but we can’t afford to get stagnant and stray away from the things that make us a good team.”

The Dons will take the floor again in Burbank on December 3, at 3:30 pm against the Maranatha Minutemen as the Providence tournament continues into the weekend.

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