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Area basketball and soccer teams wrap up the winter season, get set for the post

NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW

By Loren Kopff

The winter regular season ended on Feb. 12 with several area basketball and soccer teams either automatically qualifying for next week’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section playoffs or putting themselves in a position to apply for an at-large opening. The soccer playoffs begin as early as Tuesday with wild card action on the girls side while wild card or first round action in boys basketball begin on Wednesday, along with wild card games in boys soccer.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Artesia dropped a 57-47 decision to Mayfair this past Tuesday and entered its home finale with La Mirada at 12-13 overall, 4-7 in the Suburban League. The Pioneers, losers of four straight games, were tied with Norwalk for fourth place and the final automatic spot. Artesia, which has been to the playoffs every season since 1981, finished in a tie for fourth place last season.

Cerritos had no problems with Bellflower this past Tuesday, 64-46, to improve to 15-11 overall, 9-2 in league. It’s the best league mark for the Dons since going 9-3 in the 2007-2008 season. The Dons, winners of four straight, hosted last place John Glenn on Feb. 12.

Gahr took a perfect 9-0 San Gabriel Valley League mark into its road game at Lynwood on Feb. 12 hoping to eclipse the 9-1 league record it had during the 2006-2007 season. The Gladiators slammed once league powerhouse Dominguez 110-70 this past Tuesday on the road. It’s the first time the Gladiators, 21-5 overall, have scored over 100 points in a league game since blowing out Lynwood 105-72 on Feb. 6, 2007. Gahr is the third ranked team in Division III-AA.

Valley Christian fell to Village Christian 85-58 this past Tuesday and fell to 17-9 overall, 3-4 in the Olympic League. The Crusaders, ranked fifth in Division IV-A, travelled to Whittier Christian to end the regular season.

A slow start was too much to overcome for Whitney in its 65-47 loss to Crean Lutheran last Saturday night in Irvine. The Wildcats trailed the Saints by no more than nine points in the first half but saw Crean Lutheran go on an 11-4 run in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Whitney entered its Feb. 12 game with last place and winless Downey Calvary Chapel at 9-14, 4-7 in the Academy League and tied with Oxford Academy for fourth place. Oxford Academy visited third place Sage Hill.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

With a win against last place John Glenn on Feb. 12, the Cerritos Lady Dons would win the Suburban League title outright for the first time since 2008. Cerritos was 18-7 overall, 11-1 after a 64-43 win at Bellflower this past Tuesday. The Lady Dons have won 11 of their past 12 games overall.

Although Gahr was 3-6 in San Gabriel Valley League action entering its meeting at Lynwood, the Lady Gladiators were 12-13 overall, a reasonable record to apply as an at-large representative. Gahr beat up on Dominguez 57-19 this past Tuesday.

Valley Christian lost to Village Christian 57-47 this past Tuesday and was 12-13 overall, 2-5 in the Olympic League. The 12 wins are the most since the Lady Crusaders went 19-11 in the 2010-2011 season. V.C. is seeking its second straight trip to the playoffs and sixth in the past eight seasons.

Whitney had a chance to escape Crean Lutheran with a win last Saturday night but the Saints went on a 5-3 run over the final 1:43 to survive a 37-34 triumph. The game was tied 17-17 at the half before the Saints began the second half on a 7-0 run. Whitney did not get its first points of the third quarter until the 2:35 mark when freshman LiMei Vera sank a three-pointer as part of her career-high 22 points. Vera then hit back to back treys to make it a 32-31 contest with 2:00 left in the game. The Lady Wildcats dropped to 10-11 overall, 6-5 in the Academy League and were tied for third place with St. Margaret’s. Whitney would claim third place all alone with a Feb. 12 win against second place Downey Calvary Chapel and a St. Margaret’s loss to first place Crean Lutheran.

BOYS SOCCER

Artesia’s chances of keeping its long playoff streak alive took a major hit when the Pioneers lost at home to Mayfair 4-3 this past Tuesday. The Pioneers, who have been to the playoffs 17 straight seasons, fell two points behind Mayfair for fourth place in the Suburban League. While Mayfair wrapped up its regular season, the Pioneers dropped to 6-10-6 overall, 4-5-2 in league and needed to beat second place La Mirada on Feb. 12 to leap frog Mayfair.

Norwalk, on the other hand, posted a 1-0 overtime victory over La Mirada this past Tuesday to claim no worse than a share of its first Suburban League title since 2010. Senior midfielder Anthony Gonzalez scored the game-winner in the 98th minute as the Lancers improved to 14-4-1 overall and 9-2 in the circuit.

Valley Christian routed Village Christian 7-2 this past Tuesday and in the process, claimed the Olympic League title for the third season in a row. The Crusaders (8-7-1, 6-0-1) got a pair of goals from freshman forward Josh Akrofi and junior forward Roger Ramos. Sophomore forward Clay D’Amico also added his area-best 20th goal.

GIRLS SOCCER

With a roster that features one senior, six juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen, Artesia exceeded many expectations and locked up third place in the Suburban League after winning three straight 1-0 decisions over Norwalk, Cerritos and Bellflower. While the Pioneers saw their five-game winning streak stopped by Mayfair, 3-0, this past Tuesday, they entered its home finale against league champion La Mirada at 11-5-5 overall, 6-3-2 in league and have reached double digits in victories for the eighth straight season.

Cerritos edged Bellflower 2-1 this past Tuesday to seal fourth place in the Suburban League. The Lady Dons, who went 4-16-1 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009, improved to 12-6-3 overall, 4-5-2 in league.

Valley Christian had no problems with last place Village Christian in a 5-2 win this past Tuesday. With a win at Whittier Christian on Feb. 12, the Lady Crusaders (8-9-4, 3-1-3) can take second place and drop Whittier Christian to third place. This will be the first time since the 1997-1998 season that V.C. will not finish the regular season with at least 12 victories.