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RIVALRY BASKETBALL : Norwalk squads have relative ease with John Glenn as rivalry continues

John Glenn High junior Perla Santana (left) and Norwalk High junior Melanie Camarena go after a loose ball in last Thursday night’s contest. Norwalk never trailed and dominated the Lady Eagles defensively in a 44-29 victory. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer


By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


It’s no secret that when John Glenn High announced it was leaving the Suburban League for the 605 League, the school wanted to keep its long-standing rivalry with Norwalk High going as it related to its athletics. While the two institutions would no longer meet in league competition, they still wanted to meet in a non-league affair.

Norwalk continued its dominance over the folks from the east side of town in a girls-boys basketball sweep last Thursday night. The Lady Lancers, who have now won 15 straight over the Lady Eagles, went wire to wire in a 44-29 victory. Norwalk improved to 7-5 on the season and is two games above .500 for the first time in the 2018-2019 season.

“It’s a good thing because we’re all in the same town,” said Norwalk head coach Ashley Baclaan of the rivalry. “I think that’s what helps keep those rivalries going. I think it’s something the kids enjoy and they all look forward to both ways.”

Norwalk scored the first five points of the contest and led 17-7 after the first quarter on 50 percent shooting from the field. But even more impressive was the defensive performance put forth by the Lady Lancers, who forced 38 turnovers and had 27 steals in the game from 10 of the team’s 14 players.

“I think the defense was okay,” Baclaan said. “There are times where we’re obviously just reaching instead of moving our feet. I think it’s what helped us keep up in the game. But at the same time, when the girls get those quick steals and little buckets, then that’s what takes them even more out of focus.”

Norwalk would maintain a double-digit lead throughout the first half as Glenn (5-9) scored consecutive baskets just once in the game, which came late in the first quarter, compliments of sophomore Cynthia Almanzar. The hosts increased their lead to 15 at the half and 19 on two separate occasions in the third quarter.

But it was also the third quarter that saw Norwalk shoot three of 17 from the field and score just seven points while turning the ball over five times. The Lady Lancers would recover in the fourth quarter and when sophomore Ariel Garate had one of her two steals, she then assisted on senior Destiny Goodloe’s eighth of nine baskets to give her team a 41-21 advantage with 5:02 remaining in the game. Goodloe would score Norwalk’s last basket on a three-pointer with 1:58 left to play.

“It’s something that me and the other coaches have addressed to the girls,” Baclaan said of the third quarter. “They get too antsy; they don’t know how to stay composed and focused through things. The turnovers and bad decisions are something we’re trying to just knock out of them every practice. But, until we see it [change] consistently I’m going to keep trying.”

Goodloe led everyone with 20 points, the second time she has reached that mark this season and had four assists while senior Annie Valele and sophomore Brianna Flores each had half a dozen points. In addition, Valele added 10 rebounds and six steals and that’s the type of performance that Baclaan anticipates will continue for the rest of the season.

“Knock on wood I hope so,” Baclaan said. “It’s her senior year, so I hope this is her wake-up year where she’ll dominate in her spot. That’s what we’ve been telling her this whole season, and prepping for this year, is that she has to get those rebounds. Rebounds should be her first priority and being able to make those little buckets if ever she gets those opportunities.”

Norwalk will end the calendar year by playing in the 2ndAnnual Bertha Mata Memorial Tournament in which it faced Roosevelt High this past Wednesday in pool play action and Pioneer High on Dec. 27. Norwalk will then face Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High today before ending the tournament on Saturday.

Glenn was paced by Almanzar’s 12 points and seven rebounds while senior Denise Cardenas and junior Dominique Harrison also had seven rebounds. The Lady Eagles began the Larry Doyle/Dan Wiley Orange County Tournament of Champions against co-host Edison High this past Wednesday. The Lady Eagles will then host their first 605 League game against Pioneer on Thursday.

Following the game, the Norwalk boys nearly led the entire way against a pesky Glenn squad that has won just twice in 14 games this season. After a close first quarter that ended with the Lancers up by five points, Norwalk dominated the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 23-6 and cruised to a 68-44 victory. Norwalk has won 18 of the past 21 meetings with Glenn and since 1998, is 30-10 against its rivals.

“It is a city rivalry; we’re the only two teams in Norwalk,” said Norwalk head coach Brent Campanelli. “It’s a healthy rivalry, it’s a great rivalry, it’s good for the city. We’ll keep it going for sure.”

The Lancers opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run within the first two minutes. The last six points were scored off three consecutive Glenn turnovers. With 5:23 remaining in the first half. Glenn senior Gerardo Vargas stopped the bleeding temporarily with the last of his team-high six first half points. But Norwalk (8-7) went on a 14-2 run to end the half and lead 40-18 at the break.

Norwalk already had a pair of double-digit scorers in the first half as juniors Christopher Herrera (15 points) and Pablo Juarez (10 points, five steals) were pacing the Lancers. However, the third quarter didn’t start as smooth as Campanelli would have liked. Sophomore Jayden Williams scored on a three-point play 15 seconds into the half, then the Lancers went the next 3:15 without a point. During that time, the Eagles scored only five points.

“I think we tried to do things as aggressively as we were in the first half,” Campanelli said. “But in varsity basketball, kids aren’t going to go away. I told my guys at halftime they practice every day like us, they’re trying to battle everyday like us, this is their livelihood just like ours. So, I expected them to make a little bit of a run.

“I think we played a really good first half,” he continued. “So, for us to match that would have been tough. But obviously we took care of business.”

The game turned a bit chippy with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter as Norwalk sophomore Miguel Fernandez and Glenn senior Jourdhin Smith went up for a rebound underneath the Norwalk basket; Both players fell to the ground but would not let go of the basketball. A few shoves were made at each other before the referees ejected the two.

Norwalk High sophomore Brianna Flores (#32) passes the ball to a teammate as John Glenn High sophomores Cynthia Almanzar (left) and Kei’ana Hood try to intercept it in last Thursday night’s battle for city bragging right. Norwalk defeated Glenn 44-29 behind 20 points from senior Destiny Goodloe.



“I saw two guys battle, I saw two guys come down with the ball, I saw Miguel on his back,” Campanelli said. “Both of them didn’t want to let go and then I think emotions ran high and they’re competitors and they’re teenagers. But I will tell you this. I did tell Miguel when he sort of cooled down, ‘Miguel, anywhere I go in my life, I’d like you to be with me’, because he wasn’t going to back down.”

After Herrera cashed in on a pair of free throws to begin the fourth quarter, making it 56-26, the bench took over and so did Glenn’s scoring. The Eagles connected on six straight field goals, but what hurt the Eagles the most was at the free throw line, where they were a dismal five of 26.

Vargas led Glenn with 11 points while senior Marcus Ek came off the bench to add nine points and six rebounds. Senior Joseph Angulo grabbed nine rebounds for the Eagles, who faced Irvine High this past Wednesday in the first round of the Rancho Alamitos Tournament.

Norwalk, which is also in the Rancho Alamitos Tournament and opened with Anaheim High this past Wednesday, received a fine performance from Williams, who scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He shot 50 percent from fiels and five of eight from the charity stripe.

“Jayden’s a baby,” Campanelli said. “That’s what a lot of people don’t understand. Not only is he a sophomore but he’s a young sophomore. So, to have him battle and be physical and rebound the basketball and do things like that…it’s been huge. He actually got his first dunk before the game started as we were back here [on the other court] warming up. I knew he was going to play well and he did a good job for us for sure.”