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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Whitney girls fall apart in fourth quarter, bounced out early by Don Lugo


By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


CHINO-In the past six seasons, the Whitney High girls basketball team has reached the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section divisional quarterfinals four times, three of them under head coach Jeff Day’s watch. The Lady Wildcats had their best season since the 2013-2014 campaign and although they drew Don Lugo High on the road last Thursday night, all signs pointed for a victory against a team that finished a game over .500

But Whitney couldn’t get into any type of groove and the 10th ranked team in Division 4AA fell to the unranked Conquistadors 54-37. Whitney ends its season at 17-11.

“I never thought our zone would be so porous,” Day said. “It’s just so frustrating because everything Don Lugo did, we knew they were going to do. I knew they were going to be in a 2-3 zone and they weren’t going to press us. I never would have thought their 2-3 zone would give us that much trouble.”

Whitney took its first lead of the game inside the final minute of the first quarter when freshman Kim Hosada connected on her lone basket of the game, making it 10-9 after the first eight minutes. Then with 88 seconds into the second quarter, a bucket from sophomore Janelle Ho put the Lady ‘Cats up 12-11 before Don Lugo went on an 11-3 run and holding off a pesky Whitney squad that made many attempts to get back into the game in the second half.

Consecutive baskets from Ho and junior Justine Wu in a 30-second span made it a 22-19 affair before the hosts quickly went up by seven. Then after junior Kiana Sanchez hit her only basket to begin the second half scoring over two minutes in, Don Lugo went on an 8-0 run to lead by 11 points, its largest lead up to this point.

Whitney made things interesting by going on its own 8-0 run in the fourth quarter and when junior Christine Hamakawa nailed her third three-pointer, it was 38-36 with 5:20 left to play. But the Lady ‘Cats missed their final seven field goals of the game while the Q’s scored 14 straight points. Whitney was plagued by poor shooting, hitting 14 of 51 shots and was six of 24 from three-point land.

“I think it was more effort in certain players,” Day said. “We have a lack of effort and we have a lack of attitude in some of our players,” Day said. “That’s as far as I’ll go.”

Whitney was also a huge disadvantage on the boards, getting outrebounded 42-24 with Wu leading her team with half a dozen rebounds. Meanwhile, Don Lugo had 19 offensive rebounds to 10 from Whitney.

“I would have thought it was worse,” Day said. “And we talked about that between quarters and we talked about that at halftime. I basically said if we don’t rebound, we’re not going to win this game. You can’t give teams two, three, four, five chances. There were rebounds where their girl didn’t even want the ball.”

Hamakawa led the Lady ‘Cats with 11 points while Wu added nine. Whitney will lose three seniors, one of whom was a starter but none of the three scored more than 10 points in any one game this season.

“With the team we had, I thought we would win 18 to 20-something games,” Day said. “We had about three really bad games; I’d say this was one of them. And Long Beach Wilson was one of them and Crean Lutheran was one of them. Those were probably our bad three.


Division 4 Boys soccer first round

La Serna 1, Norwalk 0

It was a bitter and sudden end for Norwalk High last Friday, which advanced to last season’s Division 4 semifinals. The host Lancers were unable to mount enough offensive opportunities and were blanked for just the third time this season, all by the same score.

“We just didn’t have that offensive threat that we did last year in key points,” said Norwalk head coach Vinson Pluma. “And in big games, you have to have an offensive threat where we can just score from anywhere. Today, they got a good, easy pop shot from outside and the ball just landed to him. We were out of position and he got a shot.”

Ten minutes into the contest, La Serna High’s Eric Soto’s header off a corner kick clanked off the left post. Norwalk’s first legitimate opportunity came in the 22nd minute when senior forward Alejandro Amador long range shot sailed to the left of the net. Seven minutes later, another Amador shot went off to the right. Then with six minutes remaining in the half, a long range shot from senior defender Angel Olivares-Almejo went to the left of the net. He would also have another shot seven minutes into the second half from the left side of the penalty box that hit the crossbar. Meanwhile, the lone tally came with a minute before halftime off the foot of Ryan Bliss.

“Defensively, we played well,” Pluma said. “Offensively, we lacked creativity, I believe. That was the tough part. We couldn’t get wide and then cross the ball in from the back and we got very few shots that were just in front of the goal.”

While Norwalk was holding its own defensively, the game became more and more physical in the second half with La Serna being whistled 13 times and Norwalk another seven. In fact, La Serna’s Oscar Vaquevana was issued a red card in the 70th minute and gave Norwalk a man-advantage the remainder of the game.

“As we’re playing through the whole game, some teams will systematically foul you too, constantly,” Pluma said. “And it got worse throughout the game. That’s something you can prepare the for, but again it’s not until they hit the game that they understand how it’s going to affect them and how they’re going to react to it.”

Norwalk, tied for second in the Suburban League with Artesia High, concludes the season at 14-7, but the immediate future looks very good as the junior varsity team went 20-0 and the frosh/soph team went 19-1.

In other playoff soccer action, the Artesia boys squad posted a 3-1 home victory over Quartz Hill High this past Wednesday evening in Division 3 action with tallies coming from senior defender Javier Gonzalez and sophomore midfielders Jose Aguilar and Alejandro Romero. The Pioneers (19-7-1), ranked ninth in the division, will travel to top-ranked University High (18-1-3) and should they post the upset, Artesia will face the winner of the La Habra High-Newbury Park High in the semifinals on Tuesday.

In Division 4 girls action, third ranked Valley Christian High was upset by unranked La Canada High 1-0 last Tuesday evening. The loss snapped a 13-game winning streak for the Lady Crusaders (20-4-1), who outscored their opponents 55-4 during that stretch. V.C. was last season’s Division 6 champions.