Verdugo Hills fall short to Canyon at Providence Tournament


Verdugo Hills knew what was facing them in the final game of the Providence Tournament. The Canyon Cowboys are the kind of team where the intimidation begins the minute they walk into the gym. They are a big physical team that looks to impose their will on their opponents right from the outset. The Dons were ready for this and in the first half they handled it well. The issue inevitably becomes, can you sustain your game against a physical team’s pressure for four quarters. Unfortunately for the Verdugo Hills, the fatigue of back-to-back games in combination with foul trouble and mistakes, cost them in the end and they fell to Canyon 64-44.

The Cowboys game plan was to apply pressure to the Don’s backcourt right out of the gate, as they opened the contest applying the full court press, looking to create havoc and turnovers. Ayana Peterson-Henry did an excellent job manning the helm, breaking the press, which created good looks for outside shots. Offensively, there was no secret to what the Cowboys wanted to do; they were going to feed their star guard Jade Sims the ball early and often.

The Dons held their own against the physical nature of the Cowboys in the first half by imposing their own brand of basketball. They used their speed to attack the basket and attack the passing lanes on defense. They used their size on the interior to make life as hard as possible for Sims and the Cowboys post players to get easy looks at the basket. Morriah Mbachu showed up big for Verdugo Hills in the first half of the contest, amassing 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Her presence on the low block played a big role in the Dons carrying a slim 27-26 lead into the break.

The second half of the contest is where the attrition of a fourth game in five calendar days began to show for the Dons. Sloppy turnovers lead to many easy layups for the cowboys, namely their star scorer Jade Sims. The girls began to pick up fouls, as both Moriah Mosley and Peterson-Henry were saddled with 4 fouls that seemed to take away their ability to pressure the Cowboy ball handlers. “Our problem in the second half was that Canyon is so good, if you make any mistake they take advantage immediately,” said Verdugo Hills Head Coach Kevin Peterson-Henry. “The second half we weren’t solid and consistent enough defensively and with the ball.”

Mosley continued to shine even in the loss, racking up 19 points on 7-17 shooting. She attacked the defense and forced them to send her to line, hitting 5 of 8 from the charity stripe. It was an uncharacteristically quiet night for Nicole Vanegas, who only put up 7 points total for the game.

Overall, it was a good showing for the Dons in the Providence Tournament. They will leave the event with a .500 record, but more importantly the team had a chance to see the areas that need to improve while gaining experience for young players that will need to be contributors as the season unfolds. “Overall, for the tournament, I’m happy with the areas that improved each game. I think we got better defensively each game and got better at moving the ball,” said Coach Peterson-Henry. “ I really like this group and I am excited to see how far they can go.”

The Dons will take the floor again on December 6th at 7 pm, as the Vaughn Tournament kicks off against the hosts, the Vaughn White Tigers.

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