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SAN GABRIEL VALLEY LEAGUE BASKETBALL
By Loren Kopff
It took visiting Lynwood just 92 seconds to set the tone of last Friday evening’s San Gabriel Valley League girls basketball game against Gahr. It took the Knights the next 2:44 to put the game away as they went on to rout the Gladiators 63-31 in a battle between the top two teams in the league.
Lynwood began the game by forcing four straight turnovers and scored eight points off of them, including steals by Neale Johnson and Alike Lofton that resulted into baskets. The score was already 15-0 at the 3:44 mark after a Johnson basket before the Gladiators finally connected. Almost a minute later, senior guard Jasmine Gates converted a three-point play off a turnover, and then off another turnover, she drained a trifecta. It would be the first of only three times in the entire game that Gahr would score consecutive points, all coming in the first half. Gahr turned the ball over 13 times in the first quarter but settled down in the second quarter and had three turnovers.
“They were too good for us,” said Gahr head coach Al Dorogusker. “They just outplayed us in every aspect of the game. Whether the girls were scared or not, I don’t know. We played enough games against enough tough teams that at this point of the season, if they’re scared, then that’s absolutely ridiculous. [Lynwood] is physically strong.
“If there was a loose ball, it was theirs,” he continued. “If there was a questionable rebound, it was theirs. They moved the ball well, they played well and we did not.”
Lynwood would score the game’s next three baskets and from that point on, the Gladiators would trail by double digits. The closest they got came with 2:17 left in the half when junior forward Chidera Agu’s basket made it a 25-15 affair.
Gahr (12-7 overall, 3-1 in league) tried to cut into Lynwood’s big lead in the third quarter and got to within 14 points at the 5:37 mark on senior guard Sydney Teodoro’s first of two baskets in the stanza. But the Knights reeled off nine straight points, and then held the hosts to five points in the fourth quarter.
Gahr’s leading scorer, senior guard Jewelyn Sawyer, was held to a season-low five points. It’s just the second time all season the Long Beach State University-bound athlete has been held to single digits. She has scored at least 20 points in 10 games including the previous five before the Lynwood game. Gahr was led by Gates, who scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Sawyer also had 10 rebounds.
“I thought that Jasmine Gates played one of her best games of the season,” Dorogusker said. “She fought hard, she rebounded and she shot reasonably well. She went after the ball. Our press break in the first five minutes wasn’t intimidation because we played against five good pressing teams and the first five minutes of the game against Troy, against Millikan and against J.W. North were exactly the same thing.”
This was Lynwood’s 28th straight victory over Gahr. The last time the Gladiators tasted success over the Knights was on Jan. 13, 1999, in a 42-37 decision.
“They win because of two major reasons,” Dorogusker said. “Number one, they have outstanding personnel. You saw strong girls running and jumping very, very well. And they have the best coach in the area. When you put those two things together, that’s a winning team. I respect [Lynwood head coach] Ellis [Barfield] more than any other coach around.”
The team would rebound the next day by defeating Long Beach Wilson 65-51 as Sawyer got back into her groove with a team-high 21 points. Gates and junior guard Ra’vyn Bowser each scored 16 points while Teodoro added 10 points.
Following the game, the Gahr boys were looking strong in the first quarter, hitting three perimeter shots and bolting out to a 20-8 lead. But the Knights completely dominated the second quarter and virtually couldn’t miss a shot. Lynwood connected on 12 of 14 field goals in the second quarter, outscored Gahr 27-7 in the stanza and held on for a 78-71 victory. Gahr dropped to 10-10 overall and 1-3 in the circuit.
“We had trouble with their trap in the second quarter and then we just weren’t able to sustain our effort,” said Gahr head coach Ricky Roper. “Then we messed up some rotations in the second quarter. We came out in the first quarter rotating the way we wanted to. In the second quarter, we kind of missed some assignments.”
Gahr was up 20-8 with under a minute remaining in the first quarter after and steal and basket from junior guard Malachi Hoosein. But Lynwood’s Mister Merriweather connected on a pair of free throws with 35.7 seconds left in the opening quarter to begin a 9-0 run. Gahr stopped that scoring streak with 5:38 left in the half on a Hoosein basket.
But the Knights and their hot shooting crept back and took their first lead (26-25) with 3:13 remaining in the half on a Kevin Miller basket. It was the eighth straight field goal without a miss to begin the second quarter and Lynwood would proceed to own a 35-27 lead at the break.
Gahr trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter as Lynwood continued to stay hot form the field. The Knights missed four shots in 12 attempts in the stanza but the Gladiators clawed back and trailed 49-43 at the 1:37 mark after a three-pointer from Hoosein. The lead would balloon to 14 points with 3:38 remaining in the game but again, Gahr would get back to within striking distance and trail by five points when sophomore guard Anthony Austin drained a three-pointer with 57 seconds left.
Hoosein led all scorers with 25 points and hit five three-pointers while senior guard Ryan Hart added 14 points and half a dozen rebounds. Austin came off the bench to score 12 points, all in the second half and junior guard David Murrell also came off the bench to pitch in 10 points.
“Anthony is going to be a good player,” Roper said. “He stepped up and played really hard tonight. This league is tough; everybody in this league is tough. They’re learning and you have to come to play every night.”
This is the second straight season that Gahr has started 1-3 in league. Last season, the Gladiators rebounded to win five of their last six regular season games and finished tied for second place in the league.
“Our 1-3 last year is a little bit different than this year,” Roper said. “Last year we were supposed to compete for a league championship. We were the favorites. This year, we’re kind of younger and have a lot of guys who are new to varsity. So, we’ve been taking it game by game.”
Both Gahr teams will begin the second round at Paramount today before hosting Downey on Wednesday.
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