By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
All hands will be on deck tonight when the Cerritos High girls basketball team visits Mayfair High with Suburban League title implications on the line. The Lady Dons, who won the league last season, will enter the contest one full game behind the Monsoons and will have three games remaining in the regular season including tonight’s tilt while Mayfair, which visited Norwalk High this past Wednesday, will have two game remaining including tonight.
Cerritos prepared for the big game by routing John Glenn High 61-31 this past Monday to improve to 14-9 overall and 8-1 in the circuit. Cerritos had its second round bye this past Wednesday and figures to be well rested for the rematch with the Monsoons.
The Lady Dons were in total control from the beginning and led 21-6 after the first quarter as they forced 12 turnovers. Junior Cailey Vitug was a big force in the opening stanza, hitting a pair of three-pointers, picking up three steals, grabbing two rebounds and dishing off one assist. By halftime, Cerritos was up by 23 points as head coach Marcus Chinen used his entire bench and was able to sit his starters in the fourth quarter.
“We have to take every game one game at a time regardless of who we play,” Chinen said. “I know Friday is going to be a big game. Today we wanted to get some reps out for some of the other players out there. And we may need them on Friday. We never know. Somebody may have foul trouble or what not and some of these other girls will have to step up in that situation.”
Senior Tatiana Fominyam led everyone with 12 points and had six rebounds, four steals and an assist. Vitug added nine points while junior Teresa Torres pitched in with eight points. The Cerritos bench scored 22 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had 11 steals.
The Lady Dons have won 11 of their last 13 games with one of those losses coming to Mayfair on Jan. 22, a 65-60 home overtime loss. It was a contest that featured a truckload of fouls and saw the disqualification of Fominyam and junior Ifeoma Okoli, both of whom fouled out in overtime. Fominyam scored 14 points against the Monsoons but sophomore Tracy Nakamura had 15 points, two off of her career-high. Chinen points to three areas that his team needs to improve on from that game in order to win the rematch.
“I would have to say get the hands out on their shooters and we need to box out hard and get rebounds,” Chinen said. “And when we get to the free throw line, we have to concentrate and make our free throws. I think if we do those three, it should be better game. We’ll see what happens.”
Glenn (3-19, 2-6) was paced by sophomore Savannah Madrid’s 13 points and 12 rebounds while senior Savanna Aguilar pitched in eight points, three rebounds and two assists. The Lady Eagles will host La Mirada High today, visit Norwalk on Tuesday and wrap up the regular season against Artesia High on Thursday.
The Cerritos boys also had easy time against the Eagles, pitching a shutout in the opening quarter and allowing three points in the third quarter. In the end, the Dons had a relaxing 83-26 victory to improve to 15-9 overall and 7-2 in league play. But don’t tell Cerritos co-head coach Jonathan Watanabe that it was just another easy victory against a team that is now winless in 20 games this season.
“We have to go one at a time because you don’t get to the next game without the game before,” he said. “You just play one game at a time regardless of the schedule. I can’t ever predict what is better going in from game to game. Sometimes you’re actually better playing three tough opponents. Sometimes it gives you a little chance to rest guys.
“We do everything the same,” Watanabe added. “We watch tape, break down what they’re going to do, scouting reports on what guys do individually and just try to take away what they do best.”
Cerritos led 17-0 after the first quarter with nine players getting in the stat sheet one way or another. Then the Dons erupted for 32 points in the second quarter and another 30 in the third before the running clock was used for the final eight minutes. Senior Evan Leonard led all scorers with 18 points and had three steals in the first half. Senior Uchenna Nnoli added 14 points as all five starters were on the bench in the fourth quarter.
Junior Cruz Gomez came off the bench to lead the Eagles with nine points while Junior Issac Carrillo added seven points, all in the second quarter. Glenn has not scored more than 34 points in any league game this season.
Heading into this past Wednesday’s action, Cerritos and Mayfair were tied for second place with La Mirada in front with a 7-1 league mark. Having a bye this past Wednesday will benefit the Dons for tonight’s game as they go for a rare season-series sweep over the Monsoons. Cerritos defeated Mayfair 75-67 on Jan. 22 as Leonard scored 25 points while Nnoli added another 17 points.
“I like having three practices to get ready,” Watanabe said. “We had a week to get ready for them the last time and I like having the three practices to get ready and go through all the things we need to do. But they’re really good and they’re really good at their place. We’ll see if we can get them one time at their place.”
Watanabe said the key to beating the Monsoons again is to stay in front of the ball and contest shots and continue to box out. The Dons did that for three quarters before letting Mayfair sneak back a little in the fourth. He added that he needs a full four quarters out of his team in order to win.
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