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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW Artesia boys soccer dominate Gahr early, pick up third straight victory

By Loren Kopff

It took a while for the Artesia boys soccer team to get things going this season but it looks like the Pioneers are beginning to get back to their winning ways. After a 1-3 start, Artesia knocked off visiting Gahr 3-1 this past Wednesday evening, winning their third straight contest and five of their last six.

The game was scoreless midway through the first half until senior Ari Claro scored off a free kick taken by junior Miguel Razo. It was Claro’s team-leading fourth tally of the season. Nine minutes later, sophomore Steven Espinoza sneaked a booming shot inside the left post for his third goal and with less than a minute remaining in the first half, senior Israel Pech notched his first varsity goal, getting a pass from freshman Francisco Sierra.

Gahr (0-3-1), which was held to one shot in the first half, avoided being blanked in the 57th minute when senior Greg Correia scored his first goal of the season. The game marked the last time the Gladiators will be in action until their San Gabriel Valley League opener on Jan. 14 against Warren.

As for the Pioneers, who went 22-1-4 last season, they will visit Long Beach Cabrillo today, then participate in the Marina Tournament, which begins on Dec. 27.

In other boys soccer action, Cerritos, which will also play in the Marina Tournament, entered its Dec. 19 road game at Irvine with an 0-3-2 record which includes a 3-0 forfeit loss to Whitney on Dec. 9. John Glenn (3-3-1) hosted Lynwood on Dec. 19 and will be home to Canyon today in its final non league game

After losing its first three games, Norwalk has won three straight and will be home to California in its final non-Suburban League contest. Valley Christian (2-4) blanked Oxford Academy 3-0 this past Wednesday night to stop a four-game skid and Whitney will head into winter break with a 3-3-1 record.

BOYS BASKETBALL

For the third straight tournament, Artesia got off to a positive start and improved to 7-2 on the season. The Pioneers held off Crean Lutheran 50-42 this past Tuesday in pool play action of the 20th annual Calvary Chapel Downey Grizzly Classic. Artesia led by four points at the half, then outscored the Saints 12-6 in the third quarter and eventually led by as many as 14 points early in the second quarter. Junior Dontae Smith led Artesia with 13 points and 11 rebounds while seniors Brandon Paris and Jon Campbell had 12 and 10 points respectively.

The Pioneers, who had lost two straight games, played Middle College on Dec. 19 and will play Schurr today before concluding the Grizzly Classic on Saturday.

John Glenn continued to keep its turnaround season going following a 58-51 victory at Whitney this past Tuesday night. With Whitney leading 44-43 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, the Eagles went on a 6-0 run and held the lead the rest of the way. Seniors Ardale Encabo and Erich Webb and junior Daniel Morales all had 14 points as Glenn improved to 4-3 and already has as many wins as the previous two seasons combined. The Eagles will wrap up action in the Pioneer Tournament on Saturday.

Whitney (2-5) was led by junior Tim Han, who scored 11 points. The Wildcats will be in the Nogales Tournament over the winter break.

After losing the final two games of its own tournament, Valley Christian got back into the win column after an easy 76-49 triumph over Oxford Academy this past Monday in the first round of the Oxford Academy Tournament. V.C. was down early 6-1 but went on a 12-0 run and wasn’t challenged that much the rest of the game.

The Crusaders (6-2) also went on a 15-0 run in the second quarter to lead 35-13 with 3:29 left in the first half. Sophomores Stedmon Bryant (13 points) and Jordan Mitchell (12 points) paced the Crusaders as everyone on the team scored, the first time this season that has happened in the same game. V.C., which defeated Laguna Hills 62-51 this past Wednesday behind a career-high 18 points from Rice, will conclude the tournament on Saturday.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

The Valley Christian Tournament began this past Tuesday with Artesia falling to Mayfield 51-23 as junior Onica Yu tied her career-high of 12 points for the Pioneers. One night later, Artesia was on the losing end to Suburban League rival Mayfair, 51-23, as Yu scored a dozen points. The Pioneers will play Garden Grove today and will wrap up the tournament on Saturday before participating in the Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary Tournament next week. The host Lady Crusaders also lost their first two games of the tournament, first to Workman 71-63 this past Tuesday afternoon, then to Bellflower 42-32 this past Wednesday. V.C. will play New Millennium today, then partakes in the Garden Grove Tournament next week.

Cerritos improved to 5-2 after a 53-43 win over California last Thursday and will play in the Gahr Winter Classic next week.

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