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SUBURBAN LEAGUE BOYS BASKETBALL : Cerritos blown out in second half, fall to Christopher, Mayfair in regular season finale



By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


LAKEWOOD-The Cerritos High boys basketball team had a tall task in front of them on the final day of the regular season. Tough, but not impossible, was the task of knocking off Suburban League-leading Mayfair High, on its home court and on senior night.

The Dons were up to the challenge in the first half, leading multiple times in the first quarter and rallying from a nine-point deficit in the second quarter. But the third quarter belonged to the Monsoons, who outscored Cerritos 21-10 and powered their way to an 86-62 victory last Thursday.

Cerritos, which drew Santa Fe High in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs this past Wednesday, ended the regular season at 19-7 overall and 9-3 in the Suburban League, good for second place, two games behind Mayfair.

“They’re okay,” said Cerritos head coach Jonathan Watanabe. “They have Josh Christopher; they have one guy. That’s what it comes down to. They have one player. When he went out of the game, you saw the difference. But they are based on one really good player, and when you take him out, they’re pretty average.”

Christopher has been Mayfair’s bread and butter all season long and his presence was immediately noticed when he scored 11 of Mayfair’s 23 points in the first quarter. But Cerritos countered with senior Destin Flucas, who was four of seven from the field in the opening quarter and scored nine points. Three other players combined for nine points as the Dons saw Mayfair score the final seven points of the stanza to take a 23-18 lead.

Then down by nine points 80 seconds into the second quarter, Cerritos made a huge dent in Mayfair’s lead and got it to 29-27 after a Flucas basket with 4:24 remaining in the half. But that’s as close as the Dons would get as the Monsoons went on a 10-6 run before halftime, then put the game away with an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter with Christopher getting four more points. He ended the game with 37 points on 15 of 21 shooting from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds.

“When he’s going like that, he’s tough,” Watanabe said. “He’s a really good player; he’s probably going to be a pro one day. And we’ve seen a lot of them in this league. He’s right there with all those other guys that we’ve played against. Our guys battled; we made a few runs. Even when we were down, didn’t fold it in.

“In that third quarter, we kind of got a little stagnant,” he later added. “We weren’t attacking like we were in the first half.”

Flucas was relegated to doing most of the work because senior Vincent Biscoe, who finished with eight points, two rebounds and two steals, was saddled with three fouls in the first half. Seniors Dorian Harris and Jyvontte Moore had nine and eight points respectively and combined for nine rebounds and three steals. Flucas led Cerritos with 22 points and attempted 23 shots from the field

“It’s huge,” Watanabe said of Biscoe. “When you miss anybody, it’s tough. You could see it. When Josh goes out in the second half, they can’t function anymore. You are a team and when one of your cogs is missing, regardless of which cog that is, it’s going to make a difference.”

Cerritos was hoping to win its first and only Suburban League title and a win would have caught Mayfair for that honor. Cerritos joined the league for the 1998-1999 season and will move into the new 605 League next season. As a member of the Suburban League, the Dons finished in second place four times and third place another six times. The best league mark was 10-2, which was accomplished three seasons ago, and the 19 overall wins are the most in over 20 seasons.

“We’ve seen a lot of pros come from this league,” Watanabe said. “If you compare us to any leagues around, I think we even top out the Moore League and Trinity League. I think we have more NBA players and we’re going up against the likes of a guy who may be the MVP of the league in James Harden. It makes it where you kind of understand okay, maybe that’s why it was so tough. We’ve had Josh Childress, Josh Christopher, James Harden, Derrick Williams, Jason Kapono. It doesn’t make it impossible, but it does make it tough.”

This past Wednesday, Cerritos defeated Santa Fe 66-49 and will host Crean Lutheran High tonight in a second round game. Crean Lutheran, the Academy League champions, enter tonight’s contest at 19-10.