East County Sports

Reindeer Classic gift goes to Holtville



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS senior writer

EL CAJON – To those following girls basketball in San Diego County, it may sounded provincial to learn Holtville High recently ended a 17-year drought against Imperial Valley League rival  Imperial High.

However, when the Vikings walked away with the championship of the 3rd annual El Cajon Valley Reindeer Classic on Friday (Dec. 23), eyebrows were raced when the Vikes ended the season-long, 14-game winning streak of San Diego High, 55-52.

The balance of the tournament final day proved a welcome holiday gift for Grossmont Conference schools.

HsIn the second flight — the “Elk Division” — Monte Vista also garnered a title trophy for its stocking. The Monarchs ruined the return of former Christian High coach Vickie Carrington by downing her Santa Fe Christian ballclub, downing the Eagles by an identical 45-42 count.

In the Third Place Contest in the tournament’s top flight, the host Braves also collected a trophy by nipping Otay Ranch, 34-31.

Holiday Green

San Diego entered the contest as the top ranked Division III program in the San Diego Section, led by Lara Saucedo, who gained a berth on the all-tournament team.

This season, te Cavers owned victories over several East County teams, including Monte Vista, Granite Hills, Patrick Henry, Valhalla, Ramona, Christian, Foothills Christian and the host Braves, most by wide, double-digit margins.

However, led by Kamryn Walker, Holtville matched-up even or slightly better than the Cavers among the other four positions, breaking open a ballgame tied at 42-all with six minutes remaining with superior outside shooting.

Holtville (9-4), which was elevated to Division I status for the first-time ever entering the season, buried a series of fourth-quarter bombs from beyond the arc, nailing 4of-6 shots from what seemed like Imperial Countyin one stretch  to gain an 8-point cushion.

The Cavers rallied to move within three but the Vikinsg were able to run out the clock to convoy home down Interstate 8 with the championship hardware.

Holtville was able to consistently punish the San Diego defense by drawing a double-team, then passing to an open teammate for a string of easy, uncontested shots.

“We came  in with a game plan and played tough,” added Walker, a senior.”We all did our jobs.”

Walker, better known as a standout softball shortstop,hopes to drsaw attention for a college softball scholarship. Right now,  she is talking to Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. However, in basketball, she is proving to be an effective, play-making point guard for the Vikings.

“I’d like to think of myself as a fast, first guard,” said Walker, who posted a game-bestg 7 assists. “I’m always looking to pass to my teammates before  my shot. I think it creates morte damage on the offensive side.”

Walker (15 points) and teammate Juia Moreno (9 of her 10 points in the second half) alternated hitting 3-pointers to secure the lead.  San Diego, with only one team foul in the second half, was then forced to commit a series of fouls in the final 60 seconds to stop the clock.

More impressively for Holtville, they limited Saucedo to just four points — one basket in the closing second to get close. The leading Cavers scorer was junior power forward Siara Bracey, who registered all 11 of her points over the final two periods.

Holtville also held the rebounding advantage, limited San Diego’s second-chance opportunities. A pair of Vikings contributed double-figures on the boards– Demi Johnston (16) and Walker (10) — plus 8 each by Vanessa Gonzalez and  Moreno.

Holtville held an early 5-0 lead, now allowing San Diego to score until there was 57 seconds left in the first period.

Elk Division champsMonte Vista

The Monarchs’ Angelina De Leon (left) receives her all-tournament award from ECVHS head coach James Thomas (right, with microphone)


Monte Vista defender  Angelina De Leon (right)

Monte Vista 45, Santa Fe Christian 42 -In othert Reindeer Classic action, Monte Vista captured the Elk Division crown by stopping Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach, 45-42. But it wasn’t easy.

The Monarchs (9-4 overall) mounted a 16-point lead early in the second half, but the Eagles (a converse 4-0 record) mounted a wild comeback in the closing minutes, then had one final possession to force overtime before falling short.

Part of Monte Vista’s late difficulties came when Angelina De Leon, an all-tournament selection, fouled out with 1:37 remaining on a call which many observers thought should have called against one of her teammates.At the time, MVHS led . 45=36.

SFC’s Piper Lenihan, an all-tournament selection

Still, the Monarchs survived the controversial call to sweep all four of their tournament contests. They earlier defeated Bayfront Charter of Chula Vista, 45-41, Calipatria of the Imperial Valley, 46-40, and winless San Ysidro during pool play.

The Eagles did release a 3-point shot with three seconds to play,but it was heavy contested by three Monte Vista defenders, including 6-foot-0 freshman center Isabelle Miller, who overcame a tough shooting performance to lead the Monarchs in rebounds and blocked shots.

For Santa Fe Christian, sophomore guard Piper Lenihan was the obvious choice for all-tournament honors.


Monte Vista senior point guard Angelina De Leon: “I think we let go on the gas pedal. We played down when we should’ve played up with more energy..”

ECVHS 34, Otay Ranch 31 – El Cajon Valley led the entire secondhalf, but never by more than six points, yet staved a late-rally by Otay Ranch.

The Mustangs had the ball with 0,7 seconds remaining, but the inbounds pass for a baseline jumper came after the buzzer —  the shot missed anyway — to give the Braves  (-4) their third win in four tournament starts.

Still, it was a strong showing for Otay Ranch 5-7) which posted upset triumphs over Lincoln and Victory Christian in pool play.


Patrick Henry 39, La Jolla 31
Scripps Ranch 67, Grossmont 32
Ramona vs. Lincoln, no report

Other Photos: Monte Vista-SFC

Former Christian High head coach Vickie Carrington now directs Santa Fe Christian



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