Valley Christian Academy's ballhandlers kept getting trapped in Oxnard Hueneme's trap defense Wednesday night.
This one was tied 5-5 early, but then the Lions kept turning the ball over against the trap, the taller, faster Vikings took advantage and Hueneme eventually pulled away for a 61-47 win over the Lions in a first-round CIF Southern Section Division 5AA playoff game at VCA.
Hueneme (12-10) finished third in the Pacific League with a 3-5 league mark. VCA (10-9) shared the Coast Valley League championship with Shandon. Both teams finished 8-2 in the CVL.
The Vikings and Lions wound up in the same division, though Hueneme has a listed enrollment of 1,985 and Valley Christian Academy's enrollment, according to VCA athletic director Pete Fortier, is 55.
The Southern Section office has prioritized past playoff performance over enrollment for at least the past few years when it comes to assigning playoff divisions for its member teams.
As for Wednesday night, "The story of the game was turnovers," said first-year VCA coach Christopher Maples.
"We just could not keep from turning the ball over against their defense."
Antonio Ayala put the Vikings ahead for good, 6-5, when he made the second of his two free throws at the 4:56 mark of the first quarter. The Lions turned the ball over seven times from there to close out the quarter.
The Vikings started getting numbers on the Lions in transition, and that paid off for Hueneme. Ayala, getting in the lane consistently, scored six points and Manny Mungaray nailed a 3-pointer as the Vikings out-scored the Lions 17-3 over the last 3:22 of the first quarter.
Andrew Sparlin's 3-pointer amounted to the Lions' only points during that span.
The teams often traded baskets after the first quarter, but the Lions' ineffectiveness against the Vikings in that first quarter did them in.
"When it was a halfcourt game, when it was our offense vs. their defense, their offense vs. our defense in the halfcourt, we did all right," said Maples.
Kiernan Quinonez was the only Lion who scored consistently Wednesday night. Making most of his bold moves into the lane pay off, Quinonez scored a team-high 14 points.
He was the only Lion in double figures. Isak Deming finished with eight points.
Ayala led balanced Hueneme scoring with 15 points. Oscar Herrera finished with 13 points and Levante Boyd, consistently working his way open near the rim, had 10. Mungaray scored all of his nine points on 3-pointers, and they all came in the first half.
Though their season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs, the Lions did claim a share of a league championship in Maples' first year at the helm.
"It was a long, complicated season," he said. "A lot of ups and downs.
"We had a lot of growth. That came to an abrupt end tonight, but the guys kept trying to the end."
The Lions out-scored the Vikings 18-10 in the fourth quarter and 15-6 over the last 5:32.
"I really appreciate our seniors," said Maples. "This was my only year getting to work with them, but I really enjoyed coaching them. They were a special group."
The Lions had five seniors this season, including Quinonez and Deming.
St. Bonaventure 56, Pioneer Valley 40
The Tri-Valley League champions (19-6) defeated the Panthers (16-12) in a 4AA first-round game at Ventura College. No details were available.
The Seraphs finished 11-1 in the Tri-Valley League. The Panthers finished a school-best 7-7 in the PAC 8 League, good enough for an at-large bid to the playoffs and their first boys basketball playoff appearance in school history.
Westlake Village Oaks Christian 60, St. Joseph 42
WESTLAKE VILLAGE — The Knights (16-12) went out in the first round of the 2A playoffs against the Lions (18-10) at Oaks Christian High School.
Angel Ortiz led the Knights with 10 points. Three other St. Joseph players scored seven points apiece: Kainoa Keuma, Elihu Cobb and Matt Chavez.
Oaks Christian finished second in the Marmonte League. St. Joseph tied Arroyo Grande for third place in the PAC 8 League.
Hancock 59, Cuesta 54
Taylor Lee-Hammer scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds, helping the Bulldogs (14-11, 6-3) to a Western State Conference North Division win at Cuesta.
With one regular season game remaining, Hancock clinched its first winning conference record since the 2000-2001 season.
The Bulldogs led 19-7 after the first quarter and 33-21 at halftime. The Cougars (10-13, 2-7) rallied in the second half, but the Bulldogs held them off.
Lee-Hammer went 6-for-9 from the floor, including 3-for-4 on three-pointers. Hancock took 13 3-point shots and made eight.
Besides her scoring and rebounding, Lee-Hammer had four assists. Anamarie Fruge scored 10 points and had four rebounds for the Bulldogs. Grace Rosa snared nine rebounds, scored eight points and made three shots.
Karly Beyers, Hancock's third-leading scorer on the year, returned after spraining her ankle Feb. 7 at Moorpark. Beyers scored six points and had three assists.
Hancock will finish its regular season at 3 p.m. Saturday with a WSC North game against Oxnard (4-18, 0-9). Meanwhile, Ventura (8-1 WSC North) has clinched a share of its 28th consecutive conference title.
Cuesta 61, Hancock 56
The Cougars (15-15, 5-4), upset the No. 15 team in the state at Cuesta, ending the Bulldogs' hopes of an outright Western State Conference North Division title.
Hancock fell short despite 18 points from Shane Carney and a career-best 12 from Mayowa Akinsanya.
The best the Bulldogs (20-9, 7-2) can do now is a tie with Ventura for the WSC North championship. The Pirates (20-8, 8-1) clinched a share of the title with a 103-80 rout of Oxnard Wednesday night.
Hancock will close out its regular season with a 5 p.m. Saturday home game against Oxnard. The Bulldogs must win that one to have a chance at a share of the WSC North title.