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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Cerritos, Whitney girls basketball teams battered around by tougher Orange County competition

January 19, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

ORANGE-Fresh off their thrilling 605 League girls basketball game less than 24 hours ago in which Whitney High rallied to edge Cerritos High 34-32, the two rivals went out of league to face two Orange County powers in the 13thannual Matson Classic held on the Orange Lutheran High campus. If anything, it provided stiff competition for the two schools as they trailed by double digits at the half in their respective games and never recovered. 

Whitney faced Brea Olinda High in the first of four games in the tournament and fell 58-47 in a battle of the Wildcats. Whitney head coach Myron Jacobs, who had seen his team lose three straight to some of the top teams in Idaho in the Timber-Lion Tournament, then begin league play with four straight wins, said he wasn’t frustrated with the outcome against Brea Olinda.

“We just played a hard fought game the day before to come right back with a little burst in the first quarter,” said Jacobs. “We just have to find someone off the bench to give us a spark of energy. We just couldn’t get it, and when we did find it, it was too late.”

After shooting five of 14 from the field in the opening quarter and ending the stanza tied 14-14, Brea Olinda outscored the brown and gold Wildcats 18-6 in the second quarter as Whitney had one field goal, which came at the 5:44 mark from junior Kylie Wang. In fact, Whitney scored consecutive baskets three times in the game, two in the first quarter and the other late in the fourth quarter. 

With Whitney trialing 47-30 entering the final quarter, it limited Brea Olinda to six points through the first three and a half minutes while trying to make the final score more respectable.

“Playing this hard game right here just refocused our girls and understanding that if you don’t play hard, you just don’t win,” said Jacobs. “I think this game is a good practice. We’ll go back and watch film and see what we can do to make the adjustments and move forward.”

Sophomore Haylie Wang led Whitney with 14 points, making all five of her shots from the field. Kylie Wang added 13 points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. As a team, Whitney was 16 of 49 from the field but got just two points from its bench. Whitney, which has yet to lose a league game entering this past Wednesday’s game at Pioneer High and was 11-11 overall, will host John Glenn High on Friday and Artesia High on Wednesday, the bottom two teams in the league.

“I think I have a great group of athletes that want to win and have the right team to do it,” said Jacobs. “Sometimes we have brain [lapses] and we forget that we have to keep our emotions in check. And if the referees don’t call a foul, that doesn’t mean stop playing. Right now, this is new to us. I think we have a solid team; we have the support. I think we have to figure out what identity we want to be, and that’s what we’re struggling with right now.”

Following the Irvine High-Villa Park High game, Cerritos was paired with Esperanza High and was no match for the Aztecs, losing 82-34. The score is a little misleading as the Dons trailed 13-10 with 1:05 left in the first quarter and was down by 14 points at the half. 

“That was great, and that’s the thing that I think our girls have to see moving forward when we play later with the rest of our league and then going into playoffs,” said Cerritos head coach Marcus Chinen of the competition. “We’re going to come across teams that are going to shoot the ball just like what [Esperanza] did.”

But throughout the game, Esperanza was shooting three-pointers all over the place. The Aztecs had 17 perimeter shots and 11 two-pointers in the contest. Six of the 10 players for the Aztecs had at least one downtown basket, but it was Lacie Miyatake who drew the most attention from Chinen. The 5’5” sophomore guard hit three of them in the fourth quarter to finish with 12 points while Kaiya Mack and Charlotte Muller each had 18 points with Muller connecting on six three-pointers.

“[Miyatake] was the one that stuck out because she was the one that sometimes when we went under their screen, she shot the ball right over us,” said Chinen. “That’s something that they don’t see in our league. They do see it in other single games or even in tournaments.”

Esperanza went on a 19-0 run in the second half and the Dons (8-12 overall) scored seven points in the third and fourth quarters each. Seniors Francine Carrillo and Kaitlyn Sugita each had eight points with the former grabbing five rebounds. Sophomore Ambar Multani would also have five boards coming off the bench as the Dons, who would then lose to Santa Margarita High 62-47 this past Tuesday, will host Artesia on Friday and visit Pioneer High on Wednesday.

“We’re going to be battle-tested, but when you look at our Division 2AA, that’s a pretty tough division,” said Chinen. “When you look at it, they have some really, really good teams. Hopefully we can get in and steal a couple of games here and there and see what happens from there.”

In other girls basketball action, Artesia visits Glenn on Friday in a battle of winless teams in the 605 League. Artesia is 2-17 overall while Glenn, which will also host Oxford Academy on Wednesday, has yet to score in double digits in its four league games and is 5-12 overall.

Gahr High, which has been a pleasant surprise and is in a hunt for a CIF-Southern Section playoff spot, ended the first round of Mid-Cities League play against Bellflower High this past Wednesday. The Gladiators (15-6, 3-1) will visit Norwalk High on Friday and Dominguez High on Wednesday. Those two teams are battling Gahr for the top spot.

La Mirada High, which won five of its first seven games of the season, visited last place Firebaugh High this past Wednesday. The Matadores (7-9, 1-3) host Bellflower on Friday before their tilt with Norwalk.

Norwalk was involved in a first-place battle with Dominguez this past Wednesday and fell to the Dons 40-34, dropping to 13-9 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-Cities League. Junior Keilani Ganancial led the Lancers with 25 points. 

Valley Christian High has not played since Jan. 13 but will host Maranatha High on Friday before going to Heritage Christian High on Tuesday. The Defenders are 6-15 overall and 1-3 in the Olympic League.

BOYS BASKETBALL

First place in the 605 League will be on the line when Artesia visits Cerritos on Friday. Artesia enters the contest at 14-7 overall and 5-0 in the circuit while Cerritos is 9-14, 4-1. Artesia will go to Whitney on Wednesday while Cerritos travels to Pioneer.

Gahr went to Norwalk this past Wednesday in the first meeting between the two programs in at least 26 years and came away with a 55-37 victory, leaving the Gladiators with a record of 11-11 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-Cities League. Gahr was in total control after the first quarter and put the game away with a 9-3 run to begin the second half and leading 30-17 at that point. Junior Dayvon Gates led everyone with 21 points and had eight rebounds along with two assists while junior Evan Spurlin-Renfroe added 10 points. The Gladiators, who took sole possession of third place, will host Warren High on Friday and Firebaugh on Wednesday.

The Lancers, who fell to 9-14, 2-3, got a game-high seven points from senior Vincent Hernandez and six from junior Jakahari Ramey. Norwalk hosts Firebaugh on Friday before going to Lynwood High on Wednesday and needs to win its last five games of the regular season to advance to the playoffs.

The hottest team in the area is La Mirada, winners of four straight games to improve to 17-6 overall. The Matadores, ranked second in Division 2A and is on the Open Division watch list, took its 4-0 Gateway League mark into its home game with Downey High this past Wednesday in a battle for the top spot. La Mirada will entertain Paramount High on Friday.

V.C., coming off an 84-65 win over Arrowhead Christian High this past Tuesday, is 14-9 overall but 1-3 in the Olympic League. The Defenders will host Maranatha on Friday before going to Heritage Christian on Tuesday.

BOYS SOCCER

Artesia (10-4-2, 5-0-0) surrendered its first goal in league play in a 4-1 win at Glenn this past Tuesday as the Pioneers go to Cerritos on Friday, host Animo Leadership on Monday and visit Whitney on Tuesday.

Cerritos (4-7-2, 3-2-0), which has been shutout in all seven losses, is in a tie for second place through the first round of league play. The Dons visit Pioneer on Tuesday, which defeated Cerritos 1-0 on Jan. 6.

The new Mid-Cities League has been paying big dividends for Gahr, which ended the first half at 3-1-1 after a 5-2 win against Dominguez this past Tuesday. The Gladiators (6-5-1 overall) visited Bellflower on Jan. 19 and will go to Firebaugh on Tuesday.

Glenn is 5-7-2 overall, 1-4-0 in league as it goes to Whitney (0-12-1, 0-5-0) on Friday and Oxford Academy on Tuesday while La Mirada ended the first half of Mid-Cities League action at 4-1-0 as it hosted Mayfair High on Jan. 18. The Matadores (6-3-2 overall) will host Dominguez on Tuesday while Norwalk, once the kings of the Suburban League, have struggled in the Gateway League, falling to 3-6-3 overall and 0-3-1 in the circuit. The Lancers hosted Paramount on Jan. 19 and will visit Lynwood on Tuesday.

V.C. has not played since Jan. 12 as the Defenders will take its 7-6-4 overall record, 3-0-1 in the Olympic League into its game at Maranatha on Friday before hosting Heritage Christian on Tuesday while Whitney is sitting at 0-12-1 after a 4-1 loss to Pioneer this past Tuesday.

GIRLS SOCCER

Artesia is clinging onto the third place in league as the Pioneers blanked Glenn 3-0 this past Tuesday. The Pioneers (6-5-4, 1-1-2) host first place Cerritos on Friday, which is ranked #5 in the CIF-SS Division 4 poll. The Dons (13-1-0, 3-0-0) have blanked nine opponents this season as they will host Pioneer on Tuesday.

Just like the boys, the Gahr girls are enjoying life at the top of the Mid-Cities League. After beginning the season with eight straight non-league losses, scoring three goals in that time, the Gladiators have outscored their five league opponents 15-0 as they hosted Dominguez on Jan. 19 and will travel to Norwalk on Tuesday,

Glenn is the only area team not to have scored in any game, which includes 12 losses and a scoreless tie. The Eagles host Oxford Academy on Tuesday while La Mirada (9-3-3, 4-0-0) got past Warren 2-1 this past Tuesday for first place in the Gateway League. The Matadores visited Paramount on Jan. 19 and will go to Downey on Tuesday.

Norwalk is another team benefiting from life in the Mid-Cities League as the Lancers shutout Firebaugh 1-0 this past Tuesday to move to 7-7-1 overall and 4-1-0 in league. Norwalk visited Bellflower on Jan. 19 while V.C. is boasting a 12-4-1 overall mark, 4-0-0 in the Olympic League as it is home to Maranatha on Friday before making the trek to Heritage Christian on Tuesday. The Defenders have 10 shutouts this season.

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