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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Gahr blasts Cerritos in championship game of own co-hosted tournament

By Loren Kopff

The Cerritos and Gahr boys basketball teams have been co-hosting a tournament that kicks off each season since 1998. But only twice had the two city rivals ever met in the championship game of said tournament entering last Saturday night.

The Dons and Gladiators experienced that for the third time at Cerritos and unlike the previous meetings, this one was a rout in the second half. Gahr went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter and went on to crush the Dons 81-42 to move to 4-0 for the second time in the past three seasons. Gahr also knocked off Cerritos in the finals in 2009 (100-84) and in 1999 (49-33). In addition, the two met for third place in 2004 and Gahr won that meeting as well, 61-58.

“It’s just exciting, it’s just a rivalry,” said Cerritos head coach Jonathan Watanabe, with his voice nearly gone. “So, it’s exciting for our players, it’s exciting for the school. You could see the turnout tonight. We had great support and the more times you can be in situations like this, the better you are in the long run. You can’t emulate this in practice.”

Both teams went back and forth in the first quarter with neither team leading by more than three points. But with Gahr in front 16-15 early in the second quarter, a three-pointer from senior Jeremy Carlyle, with the assist going to junior Evan Anderson, began a 12-4 run. The Gladiators eventually led by nine at the half (39-30) thanks to 17 Cerritos turnovers.

The Dons would score five quick points to begin the second half as senior J.J. Rivera scored on an offensive rebound, was fouled and hit the subsequent free throw. Almost a minute later, he scored on a steal to make it 39-35 before the Gladiators ran away. In fact, Cerritos went two of 23 from the field over the final 14-plus minutes of the game.

“We just had too many turnovers throughout the entire game,” Watanabe said. “We were playing very tentative tonight and that’s something that Gahr feeds on. And they’re hoping that you play a little tentative against their pressure. We’ll learn and we’ll get better and we have the whole week to recoup and get better.”

Senior Gregory Carlyle, the tournament’s most valuable player, led everyone with 25 points while senior Malik Smith came off the bench to score another 12 points. All-tournament participants Jeremy Carlyle and sophomore Marvin Bragg pitched in with 11 and nine points respectively.

Senior Andrew Bui led Cerritos with 10 points while senior Henry Buycks, who made the all-tournament team, and Rivera each added eight points. Junior Evan Leonard also made the all-tournament team as he scored 58 points in the four-game event.

Both teams will meet again tonight at Gahr in their annual city tussle. Gahr holds an 8-7 advantage in this non-tournament rivalry and has won the last five meetings. Watanabe says that Cerritos, which is off to its best start since 2009 and third best since 2002, needs to work on the basic fundamentals in order to have a better performance tonight.

In other boys basketball action, Whitney earned its first victory of the season after breezing past host John Glenn 60-37 this past Tuesday night. Whitney put the game away by outscoring the Eagles 25-8 in the second quarter as it held a 41-19 halftime lead. All 10 players scored for the Wildcats, led by sophomore Peter Kang’s eight points. Four other players all added seven points as the Wildcats visit Bolsa Grande on Saturday and Chadwick on Thursday.

The Eagles fell to 0-5 and were paced by sophomore Hugo Aguiano (16 points) and junior Nathan Lopez (10 points). Glenn will participate in the Pioneer Tournament beginning on Monday and lasting until Dec. 20.

Artesia defeated Santiago 56-48 this past Tuesday night to begin pool play action of its own tournament. The Pioneers (3-2) played Locke on Dec. 11 and will wrap up the Artesia Varsity Winter Classic tonight.

Norwalk (0-4) dropped its two pool play games of the 54th annual Valley Christian Tournament, falling to Flintridge Prep 43-31this past Monday and St. Margaret’s 59-54. Host V.C. improved to 4-0 with pool play victories over Santa Fe 45-42 and Bellflower 78-45. The tournament will wrap up tonight.

In girls basketball action, the 15th annual John Glenn-Norwalk Tournament kicked off this past Wednesday with a pair of blowouts at Glenn. First, Whitney connected on only three field goals and was run off the court by Downey 48-11. Sophomore Nicole Lee scored five points while seniors Tushara Govind and Shiraya Thompson each added three points.

Following the game, Whittier took care of Glenn 61-11 as the Cardinals went on a 19-0 run over the final six minutes of the first half to turn a seven-point game into a rout. Junior Natalie Cardenas led the Lady Eagles with six points.

At Norwalk, the co-host Lady Lancers crushed Pioneer 61-15 to improve to 4-2 and Valley Christian lost to Estancia 56-34, dropping its mark to 2-1.

Finally, Artesia wrapped up the Oxford Tournament with a 33-18 win over the host team last Saturday for its first win of the season while Cerritos was on the short end of a 56-35 decision to Los Alamitos last Saturday in the ninth place game of the South Coast Classic at University High in Irvine. Senior Alyssa Movchan led the Lady Dons (2-3) with 15 points while sophomore Cailey Vitug added 10 points. Cerritos would then knock off Schurr 55-43 this past Monday in the opener of the 1st annual Bill Kristinat Classic at Fountain Valley High.

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