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SUBURBAN LEAGUE BASKETBALL
By Loren Kopff
\The Norwalk boys basketball team has been riding that win one, lose one, win two, lose two roller coaster that coaches dread of every season. But as the Lancers are hanging very close to Mayfair and La Mirada at the top of the Suburban League, head coach Jim Webster was hoping his team wouldn’t have a letdown against winless and city rival John Glenn last Friday night.
Thoughts of that were quickly put away as Norwalk went on a 10-0 run in the first quarter and easily crushed the Eagles 56-30 in front of a noisy Norwalk gymnasium. The Lancers (11-9 overall, 3-2 in league) moved to two games above .500 for just the second time this season and have not been more than two games under .500. Norwalk began the game shooting six of 13 from the field in the opening stanza but also missed many easy shots that worried Webster a bit.
“I think we started off the game very well,” Webster said. “We probably could have opened it up earlier if we made some of those [missed] shots.”
Still, Norwalk rode the hot hand of junior guard Alex Vidana early and often. He scored half of his team’s 14 points in the first quarter and hit his second three-pointer of the game in the second quarter to make the score 21-7 with just under six minutes left in the half. Vidana also had three steals in the second quarter.
The Lancers led 28-11 at the break and if Vidana owned the first half, then senior forward Ron Angel and senior guard Erick Rocha dominated the third quarter. Angel had six of his career-high 10 points in the third quarter while Rocha nailed a pair of three-pointers as Norwalk opened up a 44-20 lead with 2:09 left in the stanza. Angel also led Norwalk with seven rebounds.
But Norwalk refused to take the foot off the gas pedal in the final eight minutes as Vidana connected on two more perimeter shots in consecutive fashion during a 26-second span late in the game. Vidana tied a career-high 18 points
“I think those two guys were the couple of guys who actually hit shots today,” Webster said of Angel and Vidana. “They hit the outside shots they were given and Alex needs to hit some three’s for us. He hasn’t consistently but today he had four. So, we definitely need him to do that.”
As for Glenn, which has now lost 15 straight league games since defeating Norwalk in last season’s league opener, it has been held to less than 35 points for the fourth straight time after scoring at least 50 points the previous five consecutive games. Junior guard Sunny Bedi led the Eagles with 12 points and was one of four players to score.
“It’s hard to judge [if Glenn is getting better],” Webster said. “We’re still doing things that, against better teams they would capitalize on. I still don’t think we’re shooting a very high percentage. I’ll be surprised if we shot over 40 percent, and for us to compete against La Mirada and Mayfair, we’re going to have to do that.”
The win left Norwalk two full games behind league-leading Mayfair and tied with La Mirada with three league victories as the Lancers will host La Mirada tonight. But Artesia and Cerritos entered this past week at 2-2 in the circuit.
“We were definitely hoping to be 4-1 but it was a good thing Artesia beat Cerritos,” Webster said. “We are pretty much tied if things go as they are predicted. But we’re going to have to win some games in the second round and beat the teams we’re supposed to beat for us to take the third spot, or higher.”
Preceding the game, the Glenn girls basketball team stayed on the heels of the Lady Lancers for the first 8:11 of its game. Then, the lights went out and Norwalk took over in a fashion that Glenn head coach Linda Parra had never seen against any of her teams in league play before. Norwalk went on an 18-0 run and proceeded to crush the Lady Eagles 55-19. It was the first time that any of her teams had been held to less than 20 points against Norwalk and the third time against any league team. It was also her largest margin of defeat in a league game since her first season in 2003.
“That’s the worst it’s been in a very long time, honestly,” Parra said. “It’s quite an embarrassment for Glenn.”
After Norwalk went up 10-4 late in the first quarter, Glenn junior Myra Gomez closed out the first quarter scoring with her first basket, then senior Lizeth Perez opened the second quarter with her only points following an offensive rebound. That would be the only field goal of the second quarter for Glenn, which was held scoreless for 6:09 during Norwalk’s 18-0 run.
“I attribute it to them all being scared; to not wanting to attack the defense,” Parra said. “Most of the time we go away from our own basket and we end up near half court. When we retreated with a dribble, Norwalk came right at us with it and we continued to retreat instead of going at them. Part of it, too, is we stop and we watch each other instead of coming to the ball when a teammate is in trouble.”
Glenn (7-11, 1-3) again connected on only one field goal in the third quarter as Norwalk outscored the visitors 16-3 in the stanza. Gomez led the Lady Eagles with a mere six points as two starters failed to score. Norwalk (12-7, 4-1) was led by senior center Maiya Griffin-McNair (15 points, nine steals, five rebounds, three assists) and senior forward Jazzlyn Gaxiola (10 points, four rebounds, three steals).
“I’m proud of Norwalk,” Parra said. “I think Norwalk High played very well. They played with heart. I don’t think we play with heart. I think we play scared and we don’t want the ball and it’s obvious who wanted the ball because look at the score.”
The Lady Eagles, who dropped a 41-29 decision to Dominguez this past Monday afternoon, visited Bellflower this past Wednesday and will host Cerritos tonight to conclude the first round of league action. On Wednesday, the Lady Eagles go to La Mirada, hoping to avenge a 31-point home loss on Jan. 7. Norwalk will begin its second round with a home game against Artesia on Wednesday.
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