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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW-Cerritos boys basketball finding its groove at right time, clinch second place in 605 League

 

 

 

 

 

February 3, 2022

By Loren Kopff

Cerritos High first-year co-head coach Lance Convento missed the Jan. 23 boys basketball meeting with Whitney High due to Covid protocols. He couldn’t get a good gauge on how the second meeting five days later would turn out or how his team could keep its late season momentum going against an improved Wildcats team that was in the hunt for a spot in the CIF-Southern Section divisional playoffs.

The first meeting, which counted towards the condensed 605 League schedule, was delayed 12 days with Cerritos coming out on top 58-44. Last Friday, the Dons completed the season-series sweep with a 48-33 win, improving to 7-14 overall. Although that win doesn’t count towards their league record, per the league athletic directors, Cerritos will be heading to the playoffs, a huge accomplishment considering the team began the season 2-13.

 

CERRITOS HIGH SENIOR Alec Reyes (#3) goes strong against Whitney High junior Justin Wahyudi in last Friday night’s 605 League contest. Cerritos knocked off the Wildcats 48-33 as Reyes scored seven points, had four rebounds and three steals. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

“I thought it was definitely a huge confidence booster for winning more games,” Convento said. “We had a really tough non-league schedule. I thought coming into league, we definitely needed it for our confidence and team morale to get some wins. It was huge getting our guys to play better and just keep up their spirits.”

After Whitney sophomore Joseph Whittaker scored the game’s first basket, the Dons scored the next seven points and never looked back. They led 13-10 at the end of the first quarter and doubled its second quarter scoring over the Wildcats to lead 31-19 at the break. Senior Brendon Dela Pena, who had nine points in the half, was one of eight players who contributed to the 31 points.

Any chance of the Wildcats possibly getting back in the game were immediately dashed when the Dons went on 7-0 run to begin the second half. Whittaker led the Wildcats with 13 points while junior Ethan Wong was held to five points, the fewest in any league game this season, and six rebounds. At the time of the contest, Whitney was still alive for third place as John Glenn High had yet to play Pioneer High. That game was finally made up this past Monday and with Glenn earning a 50-44 win, the Eagles clinched third place and knocked Whitney out of any playoff talks. Whitney would defeat Glenn 50-38 this past Sunday behind 17 points from Wong, then fall to league champion Artesia High 67-35 this past Monday. The ‘Cats (6-16 overall) hosted Oxford Academy on Feb. 3 and is scheduled to face Pioneer today.

“I think Whitney definitely came out a lot tougher,” Convento said. “I think they game planned for our press a lot better. I think our press worked a lot better in the first game, but this time it didn’t work as well.

“I feel like [Wong] is the engine to that team,” Convento later said. “Guys look up to him and it is kind of tough when he’s not going.”

Dela Pena led Cerritos (7-14) with 14 points and had four offensive rebounds in the second half while junior Andrew Hartman added 10 points and four rebounds. The Dons concluded the regular season at home against Glenn on Feb. 3.

“I told the guys discipline,” Convento said of the team’s late season turnaround. “That’s the key word I’ve been preaching to them the last couple of days. I think they came out today and I think they got less than 12 turnovers; that was our goal. We’ve been turning the ball over a lot recently and not being disciplined.”

CIF-SS PLAYOFFS

The basketball and soccer playoffs will be released on Tuesday morning with wild card action in boys basketball and boys soccer on Wednesday, wild card action in girls basketball and girls soccer on Thursday, first round action for the boys on Friday and first round action for the girls on Saturday. As of time of press, four area boys basketball teams have clinched automatic berths to the postseason with another two sitting in great shape for at least an at-large bid.

Artesia, which hosted Pioneer on Feb. 3, won the 605 League a 5-0 record and is 21-5 overall, the program’s best record since the 2006-2007 season when the Pioneers went 33-2 and won the CIF State Division I-AA championship. Artesia is ranked second in Division 4AA

Cerritos and Glenn, ranked eighth in Division 5A, are the second and third place teams respectively with the latter making the playoffs for the first time since 2013-2014. However, the team’s 12-11 record entering its Feb. 3 road game at Glenn is the program’s best in over two and half decades.

La Mirada High was leading the Suburban League with a 5-0 record heading into its road game at Mayfair High on Feb. 3. The Matadores are 11-13 overall and knocked off second place Mayfair 68-64 on Jan. 25.

Gahr High improved to 15-9 overall and 5-4 in the San Gabriel Valley League following a 57-49 win against Warren High this past Tuesday. The Gladiators were sitting in third place, a game ahead of Downey High, entering their Feb. 3 game at second place Paramount High. Gahr and Downey split the season series.

Valley Christian High was sporting a 17-9 overall record and 3-4 in the Olympic League after knocking off Whittier Christian 54-45 this past Tuesday. The Defenders entered their Feb. 3 game at Village Christian High in third place, a game ahead of Maranatha High.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Entering games played on Feb. 3, Whitney High had clinched a share of the 605 League title with Cerritos claiming no worse than second place. Artesia will finish in third or fourth, depending on what Pioneer does this week. However, at 13-9, Artesia most likely will get in as an at-large representative.

Norwalk High (14-10, 3-2) will finish in second place in the Suburban League and hosted Bellflower High on Feb. 3 while V.C. was sitting in a second place tie with Heritage Christian High with a 3-4 league mark.

BOYS SOCCER

Artesia, ranked third in Division 5, won the 605 League and had a 16-1-1 record after an 8-0 win at Whitney this past Monday. Cerritos was slated to face Oxford Academy in a third place play-in game on Feb. 3.

Norwalk, ranked second in Division 2, won the Suburban League and was 13-1-2 overall, 7-0-0 prior to its Feb. 3 road game at Bellflower High while La Mirada will be the league’s second place team with a league mark of 5-2-0 and an overall record of 11-3-2.

V.C., winners of seven straight games, won the Olympic League and was 14-2-2 overall, 7-0-0 in league play, entering its Feb. 3 home game with Village Christian. The Defenders are ranked fifth in Division 5.

GIRLS SOCCER

Cerritos, ranked seventh in Division 5, won the 605 League and was 11-1-3 entering this week while Artesia is the league’s second place team at 4-12-1 overall and 3-1 in the circuit.

La Mirada is unranked but won another Suburban League crown and will wrap up the regular season at 11-2-7 overall, 6-0-1 in league play while another unranked team, V.C., won the Olympic League and was 11-4-3 overall, 5-0-1 in league action as the Defenders faced Maranatha this past Wednesday and travelled to Village Christian on Feb. 3.