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CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION 3AA GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : Cerritos pulls away from Peninsula in fourth quarter behind Buycks, Lee

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


Sometimes, it’s good to play a team in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs who you had seen before and one that’s not in your league. That’s the situation Cerritos High was in when it hosted Peninsula High last Saturday night in a Division 3AA second round game.

The Lady Dons had squeaked by Peninsula 43-38 on Dec. 18 on the road, but the second time around would be slightly different. Paced by solid performances from senior Iris Lee and freshman Halyne Buycks, Cerritos had the lead for all but a minute of the game and sealed the 49-39 win with a 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter.

“What the girls wanted to do was equal what they did last year or go further,” said Cerritos head coach Marcus Chinen. “So, one of their goals for CIF is accomplished. Unfortunately, during the season, we didn’t that goal as far as giving us a chance to compete for a league title. But, all in all, the girls played really hard tonight. Pretty much, we played against a team that’s almost a carbon copy of us.”

Cerritos scored the first five points of the game and had a lead of no greater than six points the entire first half, the last coming with 1:50 remaining before halftime. Peninsula then went on a 6-0 run, it’s best of the game, to end the half. Although it was 19-19 at the break, the Lady Dons turned the ball over 13 times but was strong on the glass, grabbing 22 rebounds.

The second half began with Buycks scoring off one of her six offensive rebounds and senior Lindsay Fujihiro scoring her lone basket of the game. But the Panthers came back and took its lone lead. A minute later, Lee hit a pair of free throws to give the second place representatives from the 605 League the lead for good. That ignited am 11-1 lead into the fourth quarter where Cerritos really took control.

“I think it comes down to our leadership from our four senior starters out there,” Chinen said of maintaining the lead. “I know at times they didn’t play the game that they wanted to play. But they hung in there and stuck it out and basically, the younger ones who came in leaned on them.”

After scoring 29 points through the first three quarters, the Lady Dons had 20 of them in the final stanza but was four of seven from the field as the Panthers were forced to foul in the final 1:25 of the game. Holding a slim 40-37 lead, the Lady Dons were seven of 10 from the line down the stretch.

Lee, who scored 10 points against Peninsula the first time, led everyone with 15 points, including seven of eight from the charity stripe while Buycks pitched in with a dozen points and had 18 rebounds, a dozen of them coming in the second half.

“She basically came into this game and…it looked like she was more focused than usual,” Chinen said of Buycks. “When she got in there, they were a little bit more physical. But then once she figured out that she can just give it right back, she played like a veteran that way and gave it right back.”

Cerritos would then travel to second-ranked Cathedral City where it saw its season come to an end after a 64-52 defeat. Junior Kamse Okere led the Lady Dons (19-11) with 14 points while Lee added nine points. It was the final game for seven of the 16 players who were on varsity.