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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
Basketball is played five on five but when the Whitney High girls basketball team hosted St. Margaret’s High this past Tuesday, it easily could have been five on two. Junior Nicole Lee and freshman Christine Hamakawa combined to score 33 points as the host Lady Wildcats pulled away in the fourth quarter to post a 42-30 win.
Whitney improved to 10-9 overall, 6-3 in the Academy League and moved to within a half game of second place Sage Hill High. Those two teams will face each other at Whitney on Saturday with second place on the line.
The Lady ‘Cats never trailed and built an 11-4 lead following consecutive three-pointers from Hamakawa late in the opening quarter. The lead was extended to 10 points with 3:33 left in the half on yet another three-pointer from Hamakawa, who had 12 points in the half on four downtown baskets. Lee scored 10 first half points as those two players were the only scorers for Whitney until freshman Kiana Sanchez got into the action early in the third quarter.
Whitney scored only five points in the third quarter and when the Tartans ended the stanza on a 5-0 run, Whitney’s lead was cut to 27-24. But Lee opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, followed by one from senior Annika Brandes. After Ellie Jones scored to make it a 33-26 game, the hosts put the game away with a 6-0 run that lasted less than two minutes.
Lee scored 21 points, one away from tying her career-high set against St. Margaret’s on Jan. 12, a 43-27 triumph. Hamakawa added 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two steals while senior Heather Cook pulled down eight rebounds. Sanchez also had half a dozen boards as the Lady ‘Cats, minus Hamakawa and Lee, combined to shoot three for 21 from the field.
Following the game, the Whitney boys went through a stretch of 10:34 without a field goal and dropped a 45-29 decision to St. Margaret’s. The Wildcats trailed 13-9 less than a minute into the second quarter and didn’t score until a basket from sophomore Adi Jahic almost midway through the third quarter ended that drought. That made the score 27-11.
Whitney (7-10, 2-7) shot the ball much better in the second half, hitting on 42 percent from the field as opposed to 17 percent before halftime. But the ‘Cats couldn’t get closer than 10 points the remainder of the game.
Senior K.J. Hardrict led Whitney with eight points while junior Ben Barnett added six points and five rebounds. It was the first time since the league opener at Calvary Chapel Downey that Whitney did not have anyone score in double figures.
Both Whitney teams visited Brethren Christian High on Feb. 4 and after hosting Sage Hill on Saturday, will conclude the regular season at home against Crean Lutheran High on Tuesday. While the girls will automatically advance to the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section playoffs, the boys need to win out to claim one of the four automatic berths.
Artesia High will host Norwalk High today for its final home regular season game before travelling to Cerritos High on Tuesday and John Glenn High on Thursday. The boys lost to Mayfair High 77-51 this past Monday to see its record fall to 9-13 overall and 2-6 in the Suburban League. The Pioneers were in sixth place entering its road game at La Mirada High this past Wednesday. The girls also lost to Mayfair, 66-15, to fall to 4-19 overall and 0-8 in the circuit.
The Norwalk boys team got past Bellflower High 59-51 this past Tuesday to improve to 12-11, 4-5 and move a game in front of Bellflower for fourth place and the final automatic spot. The Lancers hosted Mayfair this past Wednesday and will entertain Glenn on Tuesday.
The Valley Christian boys lost to Heritage Christian High 67-58 last Friday and fell to 12-12 overall, 1-4 in the Olympic League. The Crusaders will travel to Maranatha High today before hosting Village Christian High and Whittier Christian High on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
The Lady Crusaders (16-7, 4-1) remain in contention for a league title and in addition to preceding the boys for the final three league games, they will face St. Mary’s Academy at JSerra High on Saturday.
Artesia and Norwalk have pretty much locked down playoff spots in the Suburban league while Glenn still has a shot for fourth place. Artesia (15-3-2, 7-1) edged Mayfair 2-1 this past Monday and is tied with Bellflower with 21 points. The Pioneers visit Norwalk today and will host Cerritos and Glenn on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
Norwalk (8-8-1, 4-5-0) fell to Bellflower 3-0 this past Monday and will end the regular season at Glenn on Tuesday. The Lancers began this week three points in front of Glenn for fourth place.
Glenn (4-10-1, 3-5-0) has been involved in five 1-0 decisions in league action and will visit La Mirada today.
Valley Christian remains unbeaten in five Olympic League contests and is 8-5-3 overall. The Crusaders host Maranatha today and visit Village Christian on Tuesday and Whittier Christian on Thursday.
The fourth and final automatic playoff spot in the Suburban League will be gained when Artesia travels to Cerritos on Tuesday. After Cerritos crushed Glenn 9-0 this past Monday and Artesia was blanked by Mayfair 2-0 on the same day, the Lady Dons passed the Pioneers for fourth place. Cerritos will enter today’s game at Mayfair at 10-6-2 overall and 4-5 in the league while Artesia (10-6-2, 3-4-1) went to first place La Mirada this past Wednesday and has not won since Jan. 15.
Valley Christian (7-9-2, 2-2-1) will visit Maranatha today before closing out the season next week at home against Village Christian and Whittier Christian. Currently, the Lady Crusaders are in third place with the final two opponents behind them in the standings.
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