Fifth-ranked Spring Valley travels to neighboring Ridge View on Friday for a game with championship implications in Region 4-4A girls basketball.
The visiting Vikings (16-4, 7-0) are leading the pack, while the host Blazers (14-7, 6-1) are one game off the pace. Spring Valley scored a 62-55 win in the first meeting on Jan. 11, setting the tone with a 24-15 start in the first quarter.
Cierra Carter had 34 points and 13 rebounds in the win. The junior forward has become the new go-to player at Spring Valley. She is averaging 20.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals a game. Sophomores Akia Dunlap (8.3 ppg) and Megan Davis (7.1 ppg) have emerged as solid producers.
Senior Alexus Jackson (14.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg), junior Jontay Mitchem (13.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, 3.8 spg) and senior Briana Johnson (11.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.6 apg) are the Ridge View leaders.
After taking a heavy graduation hit, including all-time greats Asia Dozier and Xylina McDaniel, Spring Valley entered the new season with many questions, but the new-look Vikings have surpassed all expectations and are on the verge of claiming yet another region championship under coach Anne Long.
The good times at Spring Valley coincided with the arrival of Long, Dozier and McDaniel for the 2008-09 season. Since then, the Vikings have gone 50-1 in region matters, winning four outright region titles and sharing last seasons title with eventual state champion Dutch Fork.
Ridge View, on the other hand, has developed into a quality program under coach Terrance Gibson, but has had the misfortune of being overshadowed in a loaded region by powerhouse teams such as Spring Valley and Dutch Fork.
Friday is another opportunity for the Blazers to finally produce a signature win.