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CIF-SS D-3AA GIRLS BASKETBALL FINALS – Rare shooting slump costs Cerritos its first divisional championships, falls to La Salle

Cerritos High junior Emily Hosoda goes up for one of her four shot attempts in last Saturday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA championship game against La Salle High. Hosoda would score six points, the most since Jan. 17 and ends the season with 71 points. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

 

March 2, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

The third quarter was kind to Cerritos High in its semifinal win at Yucca Valley High on Feb. 23, outscoring the Trojans 13-3 on its way to a 64-51 victory. It was completely the opposite last Saturday night when the Dons hosted second-ranked La Salle High in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA championship game.

The Lancers outscored the hosts 15-4 in the third quarter and turned a 19-18 halftime lead into a 46-33 victory. On top of that, Cerritos was plagued by one of its worst shooting performances of the season, hitting on 24 percent of its shots and being held to its second worst offensive output of the season. The Dons scored 29 points on Dec. 12 at Paramount High.

“We didn’t hit shots, and they did a great job on defense, too,” said Cerritos head coach Marcus Chinen. “Our offense wasn’t flowing and it’s one of those things where we came up short and they did a great job. That’s a good team.”

Cerritos never led in the first half, falling behind 6-0 through the first 4:12, and didn’t score until junior Emily Hosoda hit a three-pointer with 2:57 left in the stanza. Half a minute later, senior Jasmine Uy followed with one of her own and the Dons were down by a point, which would be the closest they would get in the half. The second-ranked team in the division with an enrollment between 600-700 would go on a 7-0 run to claim its biggest lead of the half. Still, the tri-champions of the 605 League managed to stay within striking range until halftime and was down 19-18 at the break.

“In the very beginning, it was a little shaky,” said Chinen. “After that, we settled down and we were able to do the stuff on defense that we wanted to. Again, we just couldn’t hit shots. We couldn’t hit shots and that’s what it came down to.”

Cerritos was seven of 26 from the field in the first half and was worse in the second half when it connected on 21 percent of its attempts. Hosoda would give the Dons their first lead 16 seconds into the second half. But a little over a minute later, Audrey Chen put the Lancers in the lead for good with an offensive putback. It was the beginning of a 6-0 run and after sophomore Onyeka Nwanze scored with 5:01 left in the third, La Salle scored the next nine points of the stanza to put the game away.

“We’ve been down before earlier in the season and within a minute or whatever, we’ve come back and won in overtime,” said Chinen. “We just had to let the girls know that they’ve done it in the past. It’s not over until you see zeros up there on the clock.”

Cerritos tried to make one more rally in the fourth quarter and got its deficit down to nine points nearly midway through but was unsuccessful on its next five shots while La Salle reeled off eight straight points. Chen led all players with 17 points and had 10 rebounds while Kaden Cortes added 13 points and half a dozen rebounds. As a team, La Salle grabbed 34 rebounds.

“She’s a solid player,” said Chinen of Chen. “Sometimes we could stop her on offense, sometimes we couldn’t. That was the turning point.”

The Dons were paced by Nwanze’s eight points, 13 rebounds and four blocks while Hosoda and Uy each had six points. It was only the second time all season that the leading scorer from Cerritos failed to get more than eight points.

“That was solid play by the girls,” said Chinen. “Even if we come out of this on the short end of the stick, it was an incredible season. We started off actually strong in a couple of tournaments and then when we hit that one period where we had to be out for Covid for a period of time…we struggled. But the girls picked it back up.

“They did an incredible job, and no matter what the outcome of this game was, if you look on the side of the wall, we’re going to have a CIF Finalist banner,” he later added. “That’s something that’s not up there for any basketball team. It’s hard that we didn’t get the red one, which is for CIF champions. But at least it’s going to be up there forever.”

The season would come to an end this past Tuesday night in the Southern California Division III Regionals as the 11th seeded Dons fell to sixth-seeded Carlsbad High 62-48 to conclude the season at 20-9, the second time in the past five seasons Cerritos has won at least 20 games and the fourth time since the 2013-2014 season.

 

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