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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Cerritos hoopsters advance to semifinals of Gahr Girls Varsity Winter Classic


By Loren Kopff

The annual Gahr Girls Varsity Winter Classic girls basketball event has been kind to Cerritos through the first two days of the four-day event. As a result, the Lady Dons find themselves in one of two semifinal games tonight.

This past Monday night, Cerritos benefited from a depleted J.W. North squad that played with just five players the entire first half and used a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter to cruse to a 62-39 victory. J.W. North is the defending two-time champions in this tournament.

The Lady Dons opened the game with eight straight points from four different players and built an 18-4 lead after the first quarter. After the Huskies drew to within nine points late in the half, a basket from senior Alyssa Movchan and a three-pointer from sophomore Teresa Torres gave the Lady Dons a 30-18 halftime advantage.

J.W. North made it interesting in the third quarter by scoring nine straight points out of the gate, then moved to within three points two more times before a three-pointer from sophomore Cailey Vitug started the 17-0 run.

Senior Taylor Hirata led Cerritos with 18 points and was true on five three-pointers while Movchan added 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Also having great performances were junior Tatiana Fominyam (12 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals) and sophomore Ifeoma Okoli (10 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals).

This past Tuesday afternoon, the Lady Dons survived a scare from St. Mary’s Academy and pulled away late in a 66-50 triumph. Cerritos (6-5) led 20-12 after the first quarter as Fominyam, Hirata and Movchan provided all of the points. A three-pointer from Hirata with 2:24 left in the half made it 33-18 as she led the team with 14 points on four downtown shots in the half.

But the Belles crept back and began the second half on a 7-0 run to trail by eight points. But in the end, it was too much of Hirata and Movchan from the outside and Fominyam from the inside. She and Movchan each had 21 points while Hirata added another 18 points. Fominyam also pulled down 10 rebounds while Vitug had half a dozen thefts.

Host Gahr had mixed results as the Gladiators had little trouble with Animo South Los Angeles 76-39 this past Monday afternoon but came back and squandered a nine-point halftime lead against Long Beach Jordan to lose 55-48 this past Tuesday.

Against Animo, the Gladiators led 29-27 at the half but went on a 13-3 run early in the third quarter to put the game away. Junior Angelica Soltis scored a career-high 36 points on 14 of 24 shooting from the field including seven of 11 from beyond the arc. Sophomore Alana Soltis added 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.

The next day, Gahr (6-4) was held scoreless over the final 4:53 of the game as the Panthers went on a 16-0 run to finish the game. Alana Soltis had 14 points while Angelica Soltis added a dozen more. Gahr could still win the consolation championship with victories today and Saturday.


For the second straight season, Artesia won the Calvary Chapel Downey Grizzly Classic, defeating El Rancho 72-70 in a rematch of last season’s championship game. Senior Dontae Smith and freshman Gary Williams each had 14 points as the Pioneers improved to 7-5.

Gahr fell to La Mirada 88-72 in a quarterfinal game of the North Orange County Championships last Thursday but bounced back to knock off Servite 84-66 and El Modena 87-68 the next two nights to move its mark to 9-1.The Gladiators will partake in the prestigious MaxPreps Holiday Classic in Palm Desert with a first round game against (Ulm, Germany) Urspring today at Xavier Prep High.

Winless in nine games, John Glenn will hope to get into the win column as the Eagles play Trabuco Hills today in the first game of the Whittier Tournament while Norwalk (3-7) begins pool play action today in the Whittier Christian Tournament against Loara. The Lancers will face La Verne Lutheran on Saturday.


Artesia dropped a 1-0 decision to fellow Suburban League opponent Bellflower in the championship game of its bracket of the Best in the West Winter Soccer Classic this past Monday afternoon at Bellflower High. The Pioneers had earlier defeated Santa Fe 2-1 in the semifinals.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Cerritos lost to Century 2-1 in the championship game of its bracket, held at Santa Fe High. The Dons earned a trip to the finals after blanking Pioneer 3-0. Also in that bracket, John Glenn lost to Century 4-2 in the other semifinal game, then was blasted by Pioneer 9-0 in a consolation game while Norwalk shutout Whittier 3-0 in a consolation game.