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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
The first two days of the 18th Annual John Glenn/Norwalk Tournament was exactly what Gahr High was looking for coming off a 3-1 performance the previous week in the Fairmont Prep Tournament. Then the injuries began to pile up in a semifinal game against Westchester High last Friday.
By the time the Lady Gladiators had reached the third place game against Torrance High last Saturday, they were already depleted and suited up nine players. Still, first-year head coach Rob Godwin saw his squad give a valiant effort against the Tartars, but in the end, a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter sealed the victory for Torrance in a 47-38 contest.
Senior Angelica Soltis left the game in the final seconds against Westchester with what is being called a possible hairline fracture in her left knee. She had gone up for a pass and was run into by a Westchester player. With her missing in action against Torrance, it cost the Gladiators anywhere from 12-20 points.
“It definitely hurt us,” Godwin said. “And then we also had other injuries that hurt us as well. [Juniors] Lauren [Magno] and Alana [Soltis] both are playing through injuries right now and [sophomore] Nori [Smith] was hurt in the same game as Angelica.”
Despite the short-handed squad, the Lady Gladiators led the entire first quarter and even had an eight-point lead at one point. All five starters scored at least one basket but Torrance went on an 11-0 run and led 18-13 about halfway through the second quarter. Sophomore Naomi Ellis scored the only five points of the second quarter for Gahr, which trailed 23-18 at the break.
Even when the Lady Gladiators were down by 10 points with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter, it was senior Jheanine Carlyle (two three-pointers) and freshman Hannah Kumiyama (five points) that kept the team in the game.
Then an offensive rebound and basket from Ellis tied the game at 31-31 early in the fourth quarter. And a three-pointer from Alana Soltis gave Gahr a 35-32 lead with about four minutes left to play. But that’s when Torrance, which was led by Jordan Sakasegawa’s 15 points and Ashley Sasaki’s 11 points, put the game away on that 15-0 run.
“I was proud of how the girls came up and fought because I know we’re shorthanded and we were missing the pieces that we needed to be successful,” Godwin said. “But the young girls who stepped in came to play. At this point, we’re in the process of growing up.”
Carlyle and Ellis each scored 11 points with the latter grabbing a dozen rebounds. Alana Soltis added nine points and six rebounds while Kumiyama, who was named to the all-tournament team, grabbed eight boards. In the four-day tournament, Ellis scored 44 points while Kumiyama had 21 points.
“Those two are great additions to the team,” Godwin said. “They’ll grow as the season goes on. They definitely have the impact right now which we need.”
Gahr participated in the 39th Annual Valley Christian Tournament and knocked off Bellflower High 44-32 this past Tuesday before falling to Peninsula High 42-26 this past Wednesday. Alana Soltis led Gahr with eight points and had six rebounds while Kumiyama grabbed 10 boards as Gahr was now missing three starters due to injuries.
Elsewhere in the tournament, another team with its own injury issues faced the same fate as Gahr did. Whitney High, which was minus sophomore Caitlin Cheung (sprained right knee) and freshman Justine Wu (sprained left ankle) was doubled up by Whittier High 48-28 in the consolation championship game.
Whittier ran off 12 straight points in the first quarter to take a 17-4 lead and never looked back. The Lady Wildcats got to within eight points late in the first half and again in the second quarter but the Cardinals outscored Whitney 16-5 in the final quarter. Junior Nicole Lee led Whitney with 15 points while freshman Kiana Sanchez had six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Freshman Christine Hamakawa pitched in with six points and four rebounds as the Lady Wildcats were also in the V.C. Tournament, falling to El Segundo High 47-23 this past Monday behind Hamakawa’s 15 points. Whitney then dropped a 49-29 decision to Westchester High this past Wednesday as Lee scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Norwalk High ended its co-hosted tournament with two straight wins, first defeating Northview High 38-23 last Friday and then breezing past La Serna High 52-32 last Saturday thanks to a 20-point second quarter. The Lady Lancers were led by senior Danielle Tate (16 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and five steals) against La Serna while senior Beverly Lopez and junior Crystal Lambey each added 10 points. Norwalk will visit California High today
Finally, John Glenn High continued to struggle in its own co-hosted tournament as the Lady Eagles lost for the 13th straight time after a 54-38 defeat to Northview last Saturday morning. Glenn has not won in this tournament since knocking off Sotomayer High 42-22 in 2012. Sophomore Dalilah Mendoza was Glenn’s leader with 21 points and was the only player to score in double figures in the four games. The Lady Eagles, who visit Bassett High today, dropped to 1-8 with the victory coming in the form of a forfeit against Torres High on Dec. 1. Glenn will then begin the Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High Cardinal Classic against the host school on Monday, followed by an encounter with Roosevelt High on Tuesday.
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