Monarchs basketball still looking for a shot at playoffs

With the end of the basketball season in sight, the Monarchs have a shot at winning regional playoffs.

By Vicente Vitela, Sports Editor

Both the men and women’s basketball teams have above .500 records, with the Men at 23-5, and the women at 15-13, meaning both teams have earned a spot in the regional playoff tournament.

For the men, Head Coach Virgil Watson has the Monarchs playing some of the best basketball they have in years, and their 22-5 record is proof of that. This year’s team is led by sophomore Micah Cooper, a guard who is averaging about 18 points, two steals, 6.7 rebounds a game. The second unit for the Monarchs is led by sophomore Greg Chew Jr., a forward whose only started in eight games thus far and has been valuable off the bench, averaging 15 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1 block.

A men’s team with a sub .500 winning record two of the past three seasons now ranks fourteenth in the state and has only one loss at home so far. Valley is averaging 75.3 points per game, with a 46 percent field goal percentage and 16.5 assists a night. Points at the free throw line are something that the Monarchs love to cash in as they are averaging 20 free throw attempts a game, making about 14 per game. Crashing the boards has really helped out the Monarchs second chance opportunities as they average close to 40 rebounds a game.

The offensive numbers for the Monarchs are very respectable; however, the offense isn’t even the tip of the iceberg as the defensive numbers are eye popping. Valley ranks in the top 15 for the state in opponents’ 3pt percentage (14th, 30.9 percent), points per game allowed (8th, 65.1), and opponents’ field goal percentage (5th, 38.8 percent). This team has quick hands as they average 7.5 steals a game. The defense is clearly the Monarchs’ strong suit, and if these numbers continue to improve, this team could find themselves competing for a state title.

The Lady Monarchs have taken a different path thus far. Despite a 15-13 record, they are 9-5 in conference play and still have a shot at winning their third conference title in the last four years. Head Coach Monica Hang and her staff stumbled out the gate, losing four of their first six games, but have seemed to turn the ship around as they have now won nine of their last 12 games.

During this stretch, the team has been relying on their two sophomore forwards, Sophia Hughes, and Janelle Jiron. Each is averaging over 10 points a game and logging at least 25 minutes a night. The anchor of this team, however, could be Rebecca Castillo, a sophomore who is averaging 10.3 points a night, shoots 70 percent from the free-throw line, and logs around 30 minutes a night.

“There is not one leader, we have more of a group effort here,” said Coach Hang when asked about a locker room leader.

Live by the three, die by the three, best describes this Monarch offense as they rank third in three-point percentage in the state at 36.1, and what makes this stat more remarkable, is that they are only averaging about 15 three-point attempts per game. This means that they are making the most of every three-point opportunity. Valley does not like to waste shots as they also have a high field goal percentage (39.5) that ranks 20th in the state. At the free throw line the team ranks 25th overall as they have a 64.6 free throw percentage.

“Each member to show up and produce; get solid defensive stops and make shots,” said Coach Hang when asked about what it will take to win her upcoming playoff game.

On the opposite side of the ball, this Lady Monarchs team knows how to play defense. The team ranks seventeenth in the state for opponents field goal percentage at 33.5 percent. They have also limited their opponents points per game to 53.2, which ranks twelfth in the state. One stat that Valley needs to improve on is forced turnovers as both their blocks, and steals a game do not break the top 40.

The Lady Monarchs control their own destiny as they are one of the teams on the bubble for the final tournament of the season, but if they were to win the Western State Conference, it would certainly help their bid for the big dance.

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