Girls basketball: Lions' Valerio finds shooting touch

January 23, 2013 

Kennewick guard Janey Valerio always has been a good ballhandler.

The 5-foot-5 senior was the point guard for last year’s Lions team, and she expected this season to be no different.

But with a new coach and a new offensive philosophy, she got a bit of a surprise during the offseason.

“We had to beg her this summer to shoot,” Kennewick coach Oliver Browning recently said, “but she is starting to give us a few more points. She’s got a good shot. We are starting to find her when she is open. She has the green light.”

Valerio’s shooting is important, as 6-1 post Panisesi Taimani continues to develop inside. Taimani is the focus of the Lions’ offense, which makes her the focus of opponents’ defense -- hence Browning giving Valerio the green light.

Valerio scored 14 in Tuesday’s loss to Kamiakin and 15 in a loss to Richland on Saturday.

Class 4A showdowns: Friday night will only feature Walla Walla at Richland and Pasco at Chiawana, as the Class 3A teams take a night off.

The Bombers have won four of five since losing 38-24 to the Blue Devils on the road. During that run, Richland won at Hanford and dropped a close game to Mid-Columbia Conference leader Chiawana.

Richland faces a must-win if it hopes to have a chance at reaching the No. 2 seed for the district tournament. If Walla Walla wins, it locks up at least the No. 2 spot.

Chiawana is guaranteed a top-two seed, but it can’t clinch the top spot without some help or a win over Walla Walla on the last night of the regular season. The Riverhawks beat the Blue Devils 42-39 earlier this season.

The No. 1 seed is guaranteed a spot in the regional tournament against the Greater Spokane League teams.

Schedule change: At the recent Mid-Columbia Conference athletic directors’ meeting, the board voted that if Sunnyside is not involved in the regional tournament play-in game, then that game will be played Friday, Feb. 8.

If Sunnyside is in the matchup between No. 4 and 5 seeds, the game will be played Monday, Feb. 11.

Playoff update: Speaking of Sunnyside, if the playoffs started today, the Grizzlies’ girls and boys teams both would be seeded No. 3 -- meaning Kennewick and Southridge would face off in an elimination game.

The Grizzlies are placed in the bracket based on their winning percentage in the CBBN compared with the winning percentages of the Mid-Columbia teams.

The CBBN plays a triple round-robin, rather than double round-robin, so winning percentage rather than record must be used.

If there is a winning percentage tie between Sunnyside and a Mid-Col team, then head-to-head will be used when possible. If still tied, then the Mid-Col team will get the higher seed this year and Sunnyside will get it next year.

w Craig Craker: 582-1509; ccraker@tricityherald.com

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