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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW-Valley Christian girls basketball goes cold in fourth quarter against Temecula Valley 

December 22, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

The Valley Christian High girls basketball program has been known for its stellar defense over the decades, but the offense is a different story. Against Temecula Valley High last Friday night, the Defenders limited their opponent to 31 points, the sixth time this season V.C. has allowed 35 points or less.

The bad news was the Defenders needed a few more baskets as they squandered a nine-point second half lead and fell to the Golden Bears 31-27 in the head coaching debut of 2009 V.C. graduate Ariel Sanchez. She replaced Darrell Gillcrese, who had become the school’s newest head coach in the offseason, but a mutual parting of the ways was made last week.

“I felt like the energy, definitely…we came out strong,” said Sanchez. “I’m not going to use it as an excuse, but about 90 percent of my girls are sick right now, including me. But definitely the energy wasn’t as strong as the first half, and that’s about it.”

V.C. was outscored 7-3 in the final 4:29 and was true on one of eight shots from the fields in the fourth quarter. Before that, V.C. was running on all cylinders, holding a lead throughout most of the first half but never trailing Temecula Valley. Baskets from senior Carissa Kamstra and junior Nicole Chang in the final 90 seconds of the half gave the Defenders a 13-9 lead at the break.

That lead ballooned to nine points four and a half minutes into the third quarter when junior Jada Thompson and freshman Jocelyn Tani, who had a steal and assisted on the Thompson basket, scored. The lead would still be at eight points (23-15) with 1:25 left in the stanza before the Defenders went cold.

“The first half we came out strong,” said Sanchez. “We set up in a 3-2 defense and I thought they did great at boxing out in the beginning, contesting shots [and] moving their feet. There were not any screens set, but all ball movement from [Temecula Valley] …they ran the clock out at least two or three times. So, our defense was there but I think the fatigue got to us.”

One problem that hurt V.C., which may have contributed to the lack of offense or the inability to hold on to the lead was foul trouble. Tani picked up her third foul before the midway point of the second quarter and Kamstra picked up her fourth foul with 35.6 seconds left in the third quarter. 

“That definitely hurt us a lot,” said Sanchez. “Carissa is someone that usually never comes out of the game until the very end, and that’s to give her a rest. Jocelyn is one of our main ball handlers and shooters as well, so that definitely hurt us as well.”

Tani led the Defenders with eight points, the fifth time this season she has led the team in scoring, including the last four. She also had three rebounds and three steals while sophomore Chayse Chambers grabbed six rebounds and four steals. Senior Molly Fortney had five boards and Kamstra was limited to five points.

“I am so excited to have Jocelyn here with us,” said Sanchez. “I’ve been working with her since she was in eighth grade. The future is looking bright for Valley Christian and the girls basketball department and we’re just going to keep building.”

V.C. dropped to 5-7 as it visited Garey High on Dec. 22, then will face Brea Olinda High on Monday to begin the Larry Doyle Tournament of Champions, hosted by Marina High.

In other girls basketball action, Artesia High begins pool play action of the San Pedro Tournament on Monday against Palos Verdes High, followed by contests against Gahr High on Tuesday and Gardena High on Wednesday.

Cerritos High, which has been decimated with injuries, visited South Pasadena High on Dec. 22, and will go to Bishop Amat High on Wednesday while Gahr (8-5) begins the San Pedro Tournament on Monday against Carson High, then Artesia and finally Palos Verdes in pool play action.

John Glenn High has won two of its past three games since its own co-hosted tournament to improve to 5-8. The Eagles will be off until Jan. 4 when 605 League begins.

La Mirada High, ranked eighth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A poll, is also off until next month while Norwalk High defeated Sierra Vista High 54-33 this past Wednesday to move to 10-6. The Lancers visited Godinez High on Dec. 22 in their final game of 2022.

Whitney High defeated Warren High 63-48 this past Wednesday to improve to 7-7 as it gets set to travel to Boise, ID to participate in the Timberline Tournament.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Artesia, which hasn’t played since Dec. 10, had lost four in a row prior to its participation in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas where they faced Colorado-based Fountain-Fort Carson High this past Monday, falling 63-60, before knocking off Desert Oasis High out of Las Vegas 60-50 this past Tuesday. Artesia then fell to Canyon Ridge High from Twin Falls, ID 44-43 this past Wednesday. 

Gahr is 3-8 and will be off after the Cerritos game while V.C. was sitting at 8-5 as it begins pool play action of the Orange Tournament on Monday against Ambassador High before playing Environmental Charter and Twentynine Palms High the next two days.

Whitney was sporing a solid 9-2 record before its home game against El Rancho High on Dec. 22. The Wildcats will play Bellflower High on Monday in the first game of the Showcase on Shoemaker Tournament.

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