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Madison Runnion is fouled on a shot against Andover Central Feb. 10. Valley beat Central 42-35.

Valley rebounds from OT loss
By Spencer O'Daniel
Last Updated: February 16, 2017

The Valley Center Hornet coaching staff and players knew they had the post and inside advantage in the Feb. 14 matchup at Ark City.

While Ark City had an entire lineup under 5-foot-11, it was easy to spot Taylor Latimer and Emily Klusener from the tipoff.

Latimer physically dominated the game, scoring 24 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and leading the Hornets to a 45-28 victory.

The Hornets are 10-7 overall (6-3 in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League II) after winning three of their last four games. The Hornets take on Andover Feb. 17. Tipoff is 6 p.m.

At Ark City, Latimer scored within the first 30 seconds, and the Hornets took an early 5-0 lead.

Ark City subbed early and often to keep fresh players on both Klusener and Latimer, and strung together its own 5-0 run after the Hornets' early surge.

Both teams shot under 30 percent in the first quarter, but the Hornets led 9-7 headed into the second.

Within the first three minutes, Latimer grabbed another three rebounds accompanied by six points.

Valley Center continued to dominate as a team on the offensive glass, earning several opportunities with their physical approach.

The Hornets extended their lead to four at halftime, 20-16.

The third started with pump-fake action by Zayda Perez to get to the free throw line; she converted one of two shots.

Valley Center deployed a zone defense mixed with man to man to give the Bulldogs fits and throw them out of an offensive rhythm.

The guard combo of Perez, Bethany Reeves and Taylor Rowley continued to feed the post for easy looks for their post players.

The Hornets pulled away at the end of the third, up 33-18 headed into the final frame. Their defense allowed only one Bulldog basket the entire third quarter.

The Hornets ended the game on a 6-0 run to finish as strong as they started.

Coach Trent Preheim had been waiting to see this type of game out of Latimer.

"It's frustrating to see how good she can be," Preheim said. "She can do that to a lot of teams. She had a big advantage tonight. She should be able to take advantage and make the plays. Her teammates did a great job of getting her the ball in the right places."

Homecoming victory

Reeves didn't feel any sort of remorse after not winning the winter homecoming queen award Feb. 10.

Winning her last homecoming basketball game in Valley Center meant much more for Reeves and her teammates.

"The win means a lot," she said. "We've been working so hard towards our goals. We've been working so hard towards trying to win league and it was a really big step for us and I don't think we've beat Andover Central since I've been in high school. It was a monumental win for our team."

Coming off a taxing three overtime thriller against Cheney the previous night, the Hornets avenged a January loss to the Andover Central Jaguars with a 42-35 victory.

The Hornets are 8-8 on the season and have won two of their past three games.

Almost immediately after tipoff, Reeves began her high scoring night, connecting on a three-pointer from a Perez assist.

A minute later, Perez again found Reeves for a similar wing positioned three-pointer, and the Hornets were out on a 6-1 run to start the contest.

Several minutes went by before the Hornets added to their point total, and the Perez to Reeves connection got it done again.

Andover Central's offense appeared in disarray compared to the previous contest, and mustered only six points in the first quarter.

The second quarter started with a 4-0 Hornet run off a Madison Runnion basket and a Reeves offensive rebound and putback.

Passing was also on full display, as the next possession led to a Latimer three-pointer at the top of the key.

The Hornets went on another 5-0 run midway through the second quarter.

Freshman Ellie Shank made the most of her minutes, hitting Latimer for a backside easy layup around the Jaguar defense.

Central's offensive woes continued as they added only nine to their total.

Heading into halftime, the Hornets carried a strong 10-point lead over the Jaguars. Reeves scored 15 of the team's 25 points. Latimer's eight rebounds and Perez's five assists also contributed.

Andover Central started the third with a two-point basket after back-to-back misses for both squads. The Hornets missed their first four attempts before Shank grabbed an offensive rebound over two Jaguar players and finished the play with two.

A second offensive rebound by senior Klusener sparked a 4-0 run, before both teams exchanged free throws.

With two minutes remaining in the third, the Hornets still led by 11 points, 30-19.

The last two minutes saw one basket made by the Jaguars, and both teams struggled to shoot in the period; the Hornets scored five points, while the Jaguars added only six to their total.

The Jaguars began the fourth quarter with a jumper in the lane, while the Hornets continued to struggle with shot opportunities, missing their first three.

Perez ignited the crowd with a dashing steal at the top of the key before hitting the pause on her dribble to send her defender to the ground and convert on an easy double-pump layup to jump shot.

This began a familiar 6-0 run for the Hornets.

But Central cut the lead to seven with four minutes remaining.

The Hornets worked to get their post players involved, and Latimer connected on a turnaround jumper, drew the foul and converted her free throw opportunity.

The Jaguars continued to keep pace with the Hornets, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to carve the lead to one with a minute remaining.

Reeves made two free throws and the Jaguars had an opportunity to tie it up, but missed all four free throw attempts in the last 30 seconds.

Perez sealed the deal with clutch free throw shooting, hitting five of six in the last minute to seal the deal.

Preheim was quick to point out the all-round sparkplug role that Reeves plays for the team.

"As she goes we go," Preheim said. "When she plays great, we are hard to beat. The girls feed off of her, but it's her leadership. Not just her scoring but her rebounding; she just has a knack for the ball and is a really good player."

For Preheim, this specific victory carried more value than a typical homecoming win.

"Andover Central is the top of the league and they've been the top of the league," Preheim said. "Until somebody knocks them down, teams are getting to them. We have to get them. It's definitely a big win for these girls. This has been a thorn in their side and we're pretty excited about it."

Junior varsity With a 21-point outburst in the first quarter, the junior varsity Hornets beat Andover Central 39-29 Feb. 10. Freshman Kassie Kinniburgh scored nine points, and varsity contributor Carson Orr chipped in with 7.

Triple OT loss

Playing without its leading scorer, Latimer, who was at a traffic court hearing, the Hornets dropped a triple-overtime non-league contest to Cheney Feb. 9.

Tied at 40-40 after two overtimes, Cheney outscored Valley Center 9-2 in the third overtime for the 49-42 final.

"It hurts your heart a little bit," Preheim said. "This is a good team. We knew it was going to be tough. I felt like we honestly did some good things tonight. Both teams are pretty competitive."

The Hornets beat Cheney 53-51 in single overtime when the two teams met in Valley Center on Dec. 6.

"It was the same game," Prehiem said.

Cheney forced the first overtime with a bucket in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Valley Center had a chance with five seconds left in regulation, but a shot rimmed out.

Each team made one free throw in the first overtime. A bucket by Reeves at the buzzer was waived off.

Valley started the second overtime with back-to-back turnovers and then played catch-up as Perez hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 17 seconds left.

Perez fouled out less than a minute into the third overtime and Cheney sank its free throws after a big three-pointer by Haley Albers.

"That was big," Preheim said. "I felt like you could see fatigue really, really came on us at that moment. That's what great players do."

Albers led all scorers with 18, including three three-pointers.

The Hornets led 7-4 after the first quarter, capped with a rebound and putback by Rowley off the bench.

Valley had trouble against the Cheney press and finished the half trailing 14-13. A Runnion three-point play kept the Hornets close.

Runnion stayed active in the third quarter, scoring four of Valley's 10 points.

Cheney shot 31 free throws and made 18. Valley was seven of 11 from the line.

Runnion and Reeves had nine each for the Hornets.

Valley Center 45, Ark City 28

Valley Center 7 13 13 12 45

Ark City   9 7 2 10 28

Valley Center: Orr 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Harden 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Shank 1-7 0-0 0-0 2, Rowley  2-5 0-2 3-3 7, Turner 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Runnion 0-3 0-0 0-0 0, Reeves  1-3 1-4 0-0 5, 2-2 17, Perez 0-3 0-2 1-2 1, Klusener 3-4 0-0 0-0 6, Latimer 12-17 0-0 0-0 24. Totals 20-51 1-9 4-5 11 45.

Ark City: 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Hoag 1-2 0-0 0-0 2, Stewart 2-9 0-0 2-2 6, Burley 0-1 0-0 1-2 1,  Weathers 2-6 3-5 0-0 13, Birdwell 0-2 0-0 0-2 0, Smith 2-4 0-0 1-2 5, Ruyle 0-1 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 10-33 3-8 5-10 9 28.

Valley Center 42, Andover Central 35

Andover Central 6 9 6 14 35

Valley Center 11 14 5 12 42

Andover Central: Wolf 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Wesley 1-2 2-3 0-0 8, Schulte 2-3 0-1 1-2 5, Bolden 4-10 0-2 2-6 10, Cessop 0-0 0-1 0-0 0, Peckham 0-5 0-1 0-2 0, Brown 5-9 0-2 2-2 12, Birch 0-0 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-29 2-10 5-12 19 35.

Valley Center: Orr 00-1 0-0 0, Shank1-3 0-2 0-0 2, Rowley 0-0 0-1 0-0 0, Turner 0-0 0-1 0-0 0, Runnion1-2 0-0 1-3 3, Reeves 3-8 3-7 2-2 17, Perez 1-3 0-2 7-10 9, Klusener 1-2 0-0 1-2 3, Latimer 3-10 0-1 2-3 8. Totals 10-28 3-15 13-20 11 42.

Cheney 49, Valley Center 42 (3OT)

VC 7 6 10 11 1 5 2 42

Cheney 4 10 12 8 1 5 9 49

Valley Center: Shank 3-13 0-1 1-5 7, Runnion 4-5 0-0 1-1 9, Reeves 0-7 3-5 0-0 9, Perez 2-6 0-5 3-3 7, Klusener 0-3 0-0 2-2 2, Rowley 1-1 1-5 0-0 5, Turner 0-3 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 10-40 5-17 7-11 42.

Cheney: Ortiz 0-1 0-1 0-2 0, Wewe 0-3 0-0 6-6 6, Monson 2-7 0-1 1-2 5, Smith 1-8 0-0 1-4 3, Albers 4-11, 3-7, 1-3 18, Campbell 0-4 0-1 4-7 4, Higgins 1-1 0-0 2-3 4, O'Shea 0-0 0-1 0-0 0, Freund 2-2 0-0 3-4 7, Jones 1-1 0-0 0-0 2. Totals 11-38 3-11 18-31 49.

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